Red Cross: Saliva COVID-19 test has 99% success rate in US

 By Mark Angelo Mañez

PHOTO: Fox5 Atlanta

MANILA, Philippines — The cheaper, saliva-based test for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has garnered a 99% detection rate in the US, the Philippine Red Cross disclosed.

Speaking in an interview aired over dzMM TeleRadyo, former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said that the PRC is still waiting on the approval of the Department of Health Technology Assessment Council.

To recall, the saliva test recommendation had already reached the desk of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for approval as early as November.

"The saliva test is cheaper and simpler to do. In the University of Illinois, they've conducted one million saliva tests, and their detection or concordance rate is 99%," she said in Filipino.

According to the Red Cross, administering the saliva-based tests does not require swab kits, a specimen collector and skilled professional, nor expensive collection vials. Processing time for saliva samples is also shorter as it takes only three hours compared to the swab tests, which can take six to seven hours.

Ubial, who has also been designated as the head of the Philippine Red Cross' biomolecular laboratories, added that the organization's COVID-19 testing will continue even after government launches its immunization program, supposedly in the second quarter of the year.

"When the vaccine comes, not everyone will be inoculated immediately. In fact, they’re saying only 20 percent of the world’s population can be vaccinated within 2021. So, officials are looking at up to 3 years of vaccination to achieve herd immunity. So, our COVID-19 testing will continue," Ubial said.

The day before, PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon disclosed that the embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) once again owed the Red Cross over P800 million for COVID-19 testing services.

The PRC had already once suspended its free coronavirus testing in October due to the state health insurer's outstanding P930-million debt at the time.

“As much as possible, I don’t want to talk about that, but it reaches almost P1 billion again. It’s P800 million again,” Gordon said in an interview aired over radio dwIZ.

“At present, PhilHealth just pay when they want to. That should not be the case. The debt will increase,” said Gordon.

Malacañang continues to ramp up its narrative about the country's testing capacity, going so far as to claim that the Philippines is one of the leading nations in the world when it comes to screening for novel coronavirus.

According to figures from business data platform Statista, the Philippines still sits among the bottom five in coronavirus tests conducted among the most impacted countries worldwide.

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