RITM still studying saliva-based virus testing

Published August 29, 2020, 4:16 PM

by Analou de Vera

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) is still conducting a study if the saliva-based testing can be used in detecting the virus that causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Department of Health (DoH) said.

DoH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the laboratory experts panel instructed the RITM to conduct a research on this method “weeks ago.”

“Pinag-aaralan pa rin. Wala pa silang resulta for now (They are still studying it. They do not have a result yet),” said Vergeire in an online forum last Friday.

“As soon as RITM would have initial results of this study, we’ll share it with everybody because this is something worth pursuing kung makatulong talaga at makita natin na (if it really helps and if we see that it is) acceptable and feasible para sa (for our) strategy for testing here in the country,” she added.

Vergeire said that one of the advantages of using the saliva-based testing is it is much easier to collect the specimen compared to the RT-PCR method that involves swabbing of the nose and throat.

“It is much easier to obtain or to collect. If you know ngayon, pagkasina-swab tayo sa ilong or throat, it’s really inconvenient for a person. But when you do a saliva, we use a stick with a sponge at the end — and then you rub it off sa loob ng buccal cavity and that’s it, it’s done, you put it in a transport medium,” said Vergeire.

But the Health official said that the use of saliva-based testing also has a disadvantage.

“Ang sinasabi ng ibang articles laging may food particles na nakakasama so it contaminates itong specimen. Second, to get accurate result dapat madami, so talagang kailangan tama ‘yung ginagawa mong pag-rub sa sides ng mouth sa isang tao (What other articles say is that food particles can contaminate the specimen. Second, to get accurate results, the right amount (of specimen must be collected), so you really need to do the rubbing correctly on a person’s mouth),” said Vergeire.