PH Red Cross says saliva RT-PCR test 'game changer' for PH

Published January 20, 2022, 4:12 PM

by Dhel Nazario

Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sen. Richard Gordon said on Thursday, Jan. 20 that the saliva RT-PCR test for detecting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a “game-changer” for the country.

Aside from swab testing, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) also offers saliva RT-PCR test which is considered a first in the country. (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“The saliva RT-PCR test is a game-changer for our country. The reduced cost of testing gives way to test more people such as students, employees, factory workers, healthcare workers, and other essential workers,” he said.

“With the saliva RT-PCR test, they can be tested weekly because it is faster, accurate, affordable, and non-invasive. Rest assured that PRC remains committed to its duty of finding ways to test more and keep Filipinos out of harm’s way,” he added.

Gordon urged the public to get tested regularly for early detection amidst the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country. PRC said that scientists began investigating saliva testing in the early months of the pandemic.

“They were eager to find a testing method that would be non-invasive for people preferring comfort rather than the traditional nasopharyngeal swabs that were the standard at the time. With saliva, people could simply expectorate into a tube and hand it over for processing,” PRC said.

The organization said that according to Anne Wyllie, a microbiologist at the Yale School of Public Health, who is one of the developers of SalivaDirect, a noncommercial polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) testing protocol, “There’s been a growing body of evidence that at the very least, saliva performs well — it’s as good as, if not better, when it’s collected properly and when it’s processed properly,” On Jan. 23, 2021, PRC Chairman Dick Gordon, introduced the country’s first and only saliva RT-PCR test in the country to provide a more cost-effective, faster, and non-invasive way of testing for COVID-19.

According to Dr. Diana Ranoa, one of the scientists behind the development of the saliva RT-PCR test, said that in the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (UIUC), students are tested twice a week to ensure the safety of its students.

Dr. Ranoa said that this mandatory protocol paved the way for a more adjustable academic practice in the so-called “new normal.” With the saliva test, UIUC students are tested regularly as the saliva RT-PCR is more affordable and non-invasive.

“We can test as many as 48,000 people a day so that students can go back to school and people can start working. The reduced cost and non-invasive process of the saliva test make it more possible for students and workers to be tested regularly,” Gordon said.

The saliva RT-PCR test is priced at P1,500 and is available in SM, Robinsons, Ayala Malls, and through Angkas to provide access to more people who want to get tested for COVID-19.