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DOH: Saliva tests for COVID-19 need further study

Saliva tests for COVID-19 need further study, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire was referring to the suggestion of the Philippine Red Cross to use saliva tests for COVID-19 as an alternative to RT-PCR (nasal swab) test since it is cheaper and yields results faster.

Vergeire said the DOH recommendations were sent to the Philippine Red Cross in November last year which include conducting further study, increasing the number of participants in its trial and securing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a saliva testing kit.

“Hindi pa po kumpleto ang study to say that it would be acceptable. Ang recommendation po namin ay ipagpatuloy ang pag-aaral,” Vergeire said.

“We provided our recommendations last November and we did not get a response from them  [since then],” Vergeire added, referring to the Philippine Red Cross.

Vergeire said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) also started studying the viability of saliva tests for COVID-19 last November 2020.

“RITM started last November at matatapos nila ito sa April. Kapag nakita na nila ang level of acceptability nito at ebidensiya, magagamit na ito sa ating bansa,” Vergeire added.

In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque called for a “speedy evaluation” of the saliva test.

“Sana maipasok na sa Pilipinas iyan. And of course, we are asking the FDA for speedy evaluation para makakuha na tayo ng mas mura na test laban sa COVID-19,” he said at a press briefing.

The Philippines has recorded 477,807 COVID-19 cases so far. Of this number, 448,258 recovered while 9,257 died.

The number of active COVID-19 cases is at 20,292. — with Virgil Lopez/RSJ, GMA News