Other labs offering saliva test face sanctions
Photo shows people taking the saliva test for COVID at the Philippine Red Cross headquarters in Manila yesterday.
Edd Gumban

Other labs offering saliva test face sanctions

Mayen Jaymalin, Neil Jayson Servallos (The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Private laboratories offering saliva tests to the public may face sanctions, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

In an interview with OneNews’ “The Chiefs” Monday night, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said only the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) was granted approval to conduct saliva test for COVID.

“The condition of the department when we gave the approval to Red Cross and UP College of Medicine is that saliva as alternative specimen would only be implemented in the Philippine Red Cross laboratories,” Vergeire said.

“Other laboratories cannot use that and they cannot do that because they will be sanctioned. Only the PRC was approved to use this method,” she added.

Results of saliva tests from Red Cross, Vergeire said, could be considered official and may be submitted when required by companies.

A study done by the Red Cross showed over 98 percent accuracy of saliva test, although Vergeire said laboratory experts still recommended close monitoring to determine if it would yield the same high results when tried on a larger number of people.

The Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) is undertaking validation study to check if saliva test can also be used by other laboratories in the country.

The RITM needs to undertake validation since there are different processes in laboratories.

Vergeire said the saliva test being done by the PRC is different from the self-test saliva kit available abroad.

She said the government is open to new technology to improve its response to the pandemic.

But prior to public use in the country, Vergeire said there is a need to register the technology with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

No pharmaceutical company has so far applied with the FDA for registration of the self-test kit using saliva as specimen, she said.

“Most importantly it has to have the validation study with our national reference laboratory which is the RITM. It’s where we can determine if this test would yield sensitive, specific and accurate result,” Vergeire said.

PRC chairman and Sen. Richard Gordon said they are planning to roll out soon the saliva test method in 10 of its molecular laboratories in the provinces.

“Our goal is to go nationwide by Feb. 1. Today, we are open with our machines in Port Area in Manila and at our laboratory in Mandaluyong,” Gordon said.

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