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Saliva test gets nod, but only in PRC labs
According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, the studies being conducted by PRC on saliva testing had already passed the evaluation of the Laboratory Expert Panel.
Philippine Red Cross, file

Saliva test gets nod, but only in PRC labs

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has given the go-signal to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to use saliva samples in detecting the presence of COVID-19.

According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, the studies being conducted by PRC on saliva testing had already passed the evaluation of the Laboratory Expert Panel (LEP).

“Just this week, we had a meeting with PRC and they presented the results of their studies and it was agreed by the LEP that it passed,” she said.

Vergeire noted the LEP had recommended that saliva testing be approved by DOH as “alternative specimen” for COVID-19 testing.

“However, the condition of the LEP is that saliva testing can only be used in the laboratories of PRC,” she pointed out.

The official added this is pending the validation tests being conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine so this technology can also be used by other laboratories.

The PRC pushed for saliva testing as it intends to intensify COVID-19 testing amid the rising number of cases and the detection of the new UK variant which is more transmissible.

The agency also underscored that saliva is safer for health workers collecting swab samples.

Currently, the PRC has the most number of laboratories doing realtime-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests which involve the collection of swab specimens from a person’s nose and throat.

Meanwhile, for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), it would be illegal for employers to make COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for work since the government itself is not making it mandatory.

According to DOLE spokesman Rolly Francia, based on existing guidelines of the government, vaccination against COVID-19 is purely voluntary.

“Unless the government incorporates it in the guidelines that possession of vaccine passport is mandatory, I don’t think employers can make it a requirement,” he said.

Francia noted doing so would be illegal because it will violate existing labor policies against discrimination.

But the official maintained it may be a different case if the employers will shoulder the cost of vaccination.

“In that case, maybe that’s OK because the employers will spend for it. Maybe, but this will have to be studied,” he added.

The government is planning to roll out its vaccination program within the first quarter of the year.

It will be issuing a “vaccination passport” to vaccinees as inoculation against COVID-19 is now being eyed by many countries as a requirement for international travel.

PRC SALIVA
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