The results of the saliva-based reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests conducted by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) are now included in all official laboratory results done in the Philippines.
This was confirmed by PRC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard Gordon in a virtual press briefing early this week. “One good news is that our saliva test is not only recognized by the DOH [Department of Health] but is also now included in the official count because it is very very accurate,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Gordon noted that the DOH now includes the RT- PCR Saliva test of PRC in all official laboratory results done in the country. Officially rolled out in January this year, PRC’s saliva RT-PCR test is a “cheaper, faster, and non-invasive” test for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
DOH Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire issued a memorandum dated June 14, 2021 entitled “Retroactive Inclusion of Saliva-based RT-PCR Results from the Philippine Red Cross Laboratories.”
Vergeire said that in a statement issued February, DOH approved the use of saliva as an “alternative specimen for RT-PCR testing” among PRC Laboratories.
Relative to this, she noted that the Disease Reporting Units (DRUs), laboratories, health facilities, and Epidemiology Surveillance Units (ESUs) “are instructed to retroactively include all official laboratory results from January, 21, 2021 from DOH-accredited PRC COVID-19 Testing Laboratories to the daily census of COVID-19 cases.”
Meanwhile, DOH also reminded PRC Laboratories “to ensure that the correct specimen type is indicated in their submissions” to the COVID-19 information systems and corresponding Case Investigation Forms (CIFs) and Individual Laboratory Results are submitted the Local Epidemiology Surveillance Units (LESUs) relative to the “current address of the patient.”
Leader in COVID-19 testing
Meanwhile, Gordon noted that the PRC remains the leading organization for COVID-19 testing in the country. PRC, he added, is the “only organization” approved by the DOH to conduct saliva RT-PCR tests in the country.
To date, PRC has tested a total of 3,307,946 that makes up 23 percent of the total tests done nationwide while Detoxicare and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) only tested 831,191 and 534,472 respectively.
PRC also partnered with the different shopping malls through its drive-thru collection sites to make it accessible to more people who want to get tested for COVID-19.
In a statement issued June 24, Gordon said the PRC currently has a total of 13 molecular laboratories capable of testing 46,000 tests per day.
Gordon added that the PRC continues to expand its testing capacity. Soon, he noted that PRC will establish a new molecular laboratory in Cotabato to serve the city and its nearby provinces.
“The more people we test, the faster we can beat the virus,” Gordon said. “In this way, people can now safely go back to work and to their schools and we can open up the economy,” he added.