THE Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, started accepting saliva as alternative diagnostic specimen for reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for Sars-CoV-2.
More than 20 individuals made reservations for a saliva test at the PRC molecular laboratory in Brgy. Jagobiao, Mandaue City on Friday, according to laboratory supervisor Ariel Kevin Mañago.
He said PRC collection centers in Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Bogo City and in nearby provinces such as Bohol and Siquijor also started accepting saliva as specimen.
By next week, he said, they will start processing the saliva samples collected in these branches.
Mañago said they ran a test Thursday evening, Feb. 4, to check the concordance rate of virus detection in a saliva test with a swab test.
He said both tests have a 100 percent concordance rate, which means that the saliva test is as accurate as a swab test.
Mañago urged local government units (LGUs) to adopt this type of test, citing Bohol which now accepts saliva RT-PCR test results from travelers and authorized persons outside residence (Apor).
He said a saliva test is non-invasive and cheaper, costing only P2,000 compared to P3,800 for a swab test.
The result of a saliva test is known within 24 hours while that of a swab test comes out in 24 to 48 hours.
He also said saliva is easier to collect than a nasopharyngeal swab and faster to process.
He said they will collect only one milliliter to two milliliters of saliva, but stressed that the specimen must not have any foreign particles such as blood and food.
Clients are reminded not to have any mouth activity 30 minutes before saliva collection. Mouth activity includes eating, drinking, smoking and putting on lipstick.
Specimens with phlegm, bubbles or blood will be rejected.
Mañago added that saliva testing is also safer for medical workers because the specimen is collected by the client and there is no need for contact.
The PRC lab can process 500 to 700 saliva or nasopharyngeal samples a day.
Those who have mouth problems or recently underwent dental procedures are advised to undergo a swab test.
“If they will break that rule, it will cause interference on the testing,” said Mañago. / KFD