Duterte backs use of saliva-based COVID testing

Published January 5, 2021, 9:34 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has backed the use of saliva-based coronavirus testing in the country due to its high accuracy rate.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

The President mentioned the low-cost and fast saliva test for coronavirus as an alternative diagnostic test during the meeting with several government officials on the pandemic response in Davao City Monday night.

“May bago daw, sabi naman nito ni (Senator Richard) Gordon na ang swabbing sa saliva is 99 percent (accurate). Oh eh ‘di iyan na ang gagamitin natin (There is a new kind of test. Gordon said the swabbing of the saliva is 99 percent (accurate). Let’s use that instead),” Duterte said during a televised address.

Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, had earlier proposed the possible COVID saliva testing in a bid to reduce the cost of diagnostic tests in the country.

He expressed hope that the Red Cross application for the use of such a test, which was made last October, will be acted upon by local health authorities. He said other countries have started to use the saliva test for COVIDand has shown 99.9 percent accuracy in detecting the virus.

The saliva test kit reportedly costs less and provides faster results compared to its predecessors like polymerase chain reaction testing which is currently being used in the country.

On Monday, the Palace called on the Food and Drug Administration to speed up the evaluation of the possible use of the rapid COVID saliva test in the country. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said such test would lower the cost of COVID testing for Filipinos

At present, the government allows the PCR testing, considered the gold standard, as well as rapid antigen test, to detect coronavirus in people.

Around 6.4 million people have taken the COVID test with 8.4 percent cumulative positivity rate. The country’s COVID-19cases have soared to more than 470,000 as of this month.