Red Cross to pilot 1,000 saliva COVID-19 tests

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The Philippine Red Cross will conduct 1,000 saliva COVID-19 tests as part of its ongoing study on cheaper alternatives.

The COVID-19 saliva test is found to have “95 percent concordance rate” with the RT-PCR test, according to Dr. Paulyn Ubial, head of PRC biomolecular laboratories.

The PRC said they already presented this to the health department in October but received feedback just this month.

“At ngayon, pinapayagan nila tayo ilabas yung 1,000 additional samples na gagawin po natin simula kay Sen. (Richard) Gordon as our pilot implementation next week, umpisa ng Monday,” she said.

[Now, they’re allowing us to release 1,000 additional samples that we’ll begin with Sen. Gordon as our pilot in our implementation Monday.]

“Hopefully, makuha natin ang 1,000 samples at ma-send natin sa Department of Health next week.”

[Hopefully, we’ll complete the tests on the 1,000 samples, and send the results to the Department of Health next week.]

Senator Gordon, who heads the PRC, said this cheaper test will “relieve” PhilHealth of its accumulating debt to the nongovernmental organization. The state insurer’s debt to Red Cross for coronavirus testing has again nearly reached P1 billion.

The senator also reported that PhilHealth made another partial payment of P265,000 last week, leaving over P651 million in outstanding debt to the PRC.

The PRC has conducted over 1.6 million COVID-19 tests, as of Sunday, he said.

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