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The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said it expects the government to give its approval this week to the holding of saliva tests for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), according to a report by Manila Times.

PRC molecular laboratory head Dr. Paulyn Ubial said the agency was hopeful that the Department of Health  and the Food and Drug Administration would authorize the saliva tests, which she said proved to be “closest to the swab test” in terms of accuracy.

“The saliva [test] has an accuracy of 98.11 percent,” Ubial said in a radio interview.

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The humanitarian organization finished the pilot run of saliva tests that involved more than 1,000 people as part of a validation study, a requirement laid down by the government. Of those tested, nine were found positive for Covid-19, 1,044 were negative, while 27 specimens will undergo a “rerun” because the machine could not read the result.

Once approved, other laboratories could also conduct saliva tests, as long as they use the same reagent the PRC used in its validation study.

“There is no patent and rights,” Ubial said. “It is a public document and it can be done by any laboratory. But if they are using different reagents they would have to do the same validation study that we did.”

Aside from the Red Cross, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine is also conducting its own study on saliva testing.

PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said the saliva test will only cost around P2,000 while a swab test costs around P4,000. The turnaround time for saliva test is faster at less than 12 hours compare to the 24 hours for swab tests.

Ubial said that the Red Cross will continue to do swab tests.

“It still has its use because swab test is our gold standard,” she explained. “But the thing is, we now have the cheaper, faster, more convenient alternative, which is just as accurate as the swab tests.”

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