Concepcion upbeat about possible saliva-based COVID-19 test

Published October 20, 2020, 5:39 PM

by Analou de Vera

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion is eyeing to support a study that explores the use of saliva specimens for the reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing. 

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“If that research shows that saliva is as sensitive or even more sensitive than swab testing, then that would be another game-changer,” said Concepcion during a virtual press conference for the Project ARK and Mandaluyong Pooled Testing sponsored by BDO Foundation. To note, Project ARK is private sector campaign for COVID testing led by Concepcion. 

Concepcion said that using the “less invasive saliva specimen can help overcome the reluctance of most Filipinos to get tested,” adding that it also has “the potential to reduce the cost of RT-PCR tests since it eliminates swabbing altogether.”

“A conventional nasopharyngeal swab may cause discomfort to individuals and pose a slight risk to healthcare workers administering the test,” he said. 

“There are ongoing clinical studies exploring the viability of saliva samples as a low-cost alternative to conventional swab-based molecular tests. If the research proves conclusive, then it can expand the use of molecular tests where healthcare resources are limited,” he added. 

Concepcion also expressed his support on testing innovations from other countries that “can help create greater visibility on community-level infection and bring down the cost of testing.”

“The direction is to make testing faster, cheaper, and more convenient to people. Whatever innovation is coming out, we are not closing the doors…These are good signs that we are really moving for innovation, for speed. That is the only way that we can open the economy safely,” he furthered. 

The Project ARK is working closely with both the Department of Health and the Department of Science and Technology to “validate the viability of these innovative testing methods.” said Concepcion. 

This pronouncement of Concepcion comes during the official launch of Go Negosyo pooled PCR testing in Mandaluyong City, wherein it follows Makati City which has already implemented the pooled testing methodology on a selected sample of its residents. 

“The people of Mandaluyong are truly honored and grateful to be part of Go Negosyo pooled PCR testing. Indeed, this is a game changing innovation,” said Mandaluyong Mayor Menchie Abalos.

“The PCR pooled testing initiative is a private sector led effort that is anchored on the combined effort of the government and businesses to make massive testing possible at the community level…Malaking tulong po ito sa aming mga Metro Manila mayors,” she added.  

Meanwhile, BDO Unibank President Nestor Tan expressed his gratitude to Project ARK for his participation in this initiative. 

“On behalf of BDO Foundation, I would like to express my gratitude and honor on being part of this initiative. I would like to thank Go Negosyo and Project ARK for taking the leadership in this testing initiative to allow the economy to gradually open. I think this is a very important and very critical initiative for us to help our small and medium sized business partners,” said Tan. 

Tessie Sy-Coson (Chairwoman of BDO Unibank), Mario Deriquito (President of BDO Foundation), Cong. Janette Garin (ARK-PCR Private Implementor), Dr. Robert Padua (President of the Philippine Society of Pathologists), Dr. Raymund Lo of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center and Josephine Romero (Project ARK Lead) were also present in the virtual presser.