COVID-19 task force: New saliva test under review
At the weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay via Zoom, Padilla said individuals that undergo the saliva test could get the results in 15 to 30 minutes.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, file
COVID-19 task force: New saliva test under review
Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing the new saliva test for coronavirus being offered by suppliers of the Philippine Red Cross, National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 spokesman Resituto Padilla said yesterday.

At the weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay via Zoom, Padilla said individuals that undergo the saliva test could get the results in 15 to 30 minutes.

He said should the saliva test for COVID-19 pass FDA scrutiny, it will be used as a health protocol, especially for airline passengers.

“There are a lot of manufacturers of saliva COVID-19 tests. Israel is one, France is one,” Padilla said.

He said once the saliva test passes the standard set by Department of Health (DOH), airport authorities would be able to control the people coming in and going out of airports.

“The movement of the people will be controlled and the accepting countries are assured that the people coming to their country are free and safe from COVID-19,” Padilla said.

Padilla said that saliva test is also pushed by the International Association of Airline Transport and management of airlines in the country.

He said that samples have already been submitted to the FDA for evaluation.

Padilla said the NTF is now looking for an alternative to the antigen testing to ensure that those who will enter the various tourists spots in the country are COVID-free.

The antigen testing that could release results within 30 minutes is being considered by the government to be used as clearance for tourists and an alternative in areas without available reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.

The RT-PCR is the gold standard of tests to detect the coronavirus but results could take 24 hours in the case of the Philippine Red Cross molecular laboratory, or up to five days in other laboratories.

Padilla said the Department of Tourism (DOT) is focused on implementing other health protocols as it opens tourist spots to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

He said the FDA is still validating one brand of antigen test that was launched recently in Baguio City.

“The National Task Force continues to work with the DOH on the possible adoption of antigen tests to supplement and facilitate people movement in the new normal,” he added.

He said the Baguio antigen pilot test is not compete and is under validation.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles earlier said the government is looking into the antigen test as a possible clearing mechanism for tourists to open up tourism in the country.

In September, the DOT considered using the antigen test for airplane passengers before taking their flights as a measure to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said they prefer the antigen test since its results will come out only after a few minutes, faster than the RT-PCR test.

The DOH decided to revise the guidelines on antigen test after the World Health Organization (WHO) discouraged its use for travelers.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the WHO has released new recommendations, saying “it is not advisable” to use the antigen test for border screening.

Tourist destinations like Baguio City and Boracay Island have already reopened amid the COVID-19 threat.

The DOT said it is checking the preparedness of more destinations for reopening.

COVID-19 TESTING
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