Alternative Covid-19 RT-PCR Test uses saliva instead of nose swab

Alternative Covid-19 test
The Philippine Red Cross offers two Covid-19 tests: the swab test (Left) and the saliva test (Right). Photos from PRC.

An alternative Covid-19 RT-PCR Test that uses saliva samples instead of nose swab samples was made available today in Philippine Red Cross (PRC) labs.

The PRC started offering on January 25, 2021, its Saliva Test after receiving the approval of the Department of Health (DOH).

The Saliva Test approval comes as a result of the interagency collaboration between the PRC, the University of Illinois, and the University of the Philippines Manila which led the study that adapted the test protocol developed by University of Illinois’ Dr. Diana Ranoa to the Sansure systems already operational in the many PRC molecular laboratories nationwide.

UP alumni researchers conducted the pilot study on more than 1000 parallel swab and saliva samples from volunteers that yielded results of the 98% accuracy of the Saliva Test, reported UP Manila Chancellor Carmencita D. Padilla during the launch.

The Saliva Test is offered as a cheaper and faster alternative to the Swab Test. Both tests use the gold standard of coronavirus screening, the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test done at the PRC molecular laboratories.

The PRC Saliva Test costs PHP 2,000 and takes 10 minutes. Processing time takes 3 to 4 hours. The Saliva test can be booked at the Mandaluyong headquarters and the Port Area laboratory. The test is not available for Outgoing Passengers.

Individuals can book an appointment for the Saliva Test at this link.

In comparison, the PRC Nasopharyngeal Swab Test costs PHP 3,800 with a processing time of 24 hours. The Swab Test is available at the NAIA for inbound passengers, at Mandaluyong, and Port Area.

PRC biomolecular laboratories chief Paulyn Ubial shared that the initial Saliva Test has yielded 98.11% accuracy.

PRC chief Richard Gordon said that all PRC molecular laboratories, such as the Visayas’ biggest PRC Molecular Lab found in Cebu, can offer the saliva-based testing by February 5.

For the Saliva Test, an individual needs to spit inside a sterile 1-milliliter vial.

Here are the 6 steps in booking the PRC Saliva Test:

  1. Select the date and time of your saliva test. Each slot is 10 minutes long. Click “Book Now” to add the appointment to your Cart.
  2. Once you’re ready, click on your Cart (upper right side of the screen) and view your items.
  3. Click on “Checkout” to proceed. Review your order details and input your personal details, then choose a payment method. Currently offered options are (1) GCash via PayMongo and (2) GrabPay via PayMongo. Enter your payment information as necessary and complete the payment. Please make sure that the billing address you provide is the same as the registered address of your credit card.
  4. Check your email for the order confirmation, which will include the date, time, and location of your Swab Test appointment. You will also be sent a link to the e-CIF Form in the payment confirmation email. Fill up the e-CIF Form BEFORE your appointment as this must be completed before the Swab Test is conducted. Alternatively, access the e-CIF Form at https://c19.redcross.org.ph/public-ecif.
  5. Be at the appointment venue 15 minutes before the scheduled time to give time for verification and the security check. Please make sure to have your proof of payment handy as we may ask for this on-site. Please also be sure to wear a face mask and face shield as well as bring a pen. Do not eat, drink, gargle, smoke or vape for 30 minutes before the scheduled appointment.
  6. Your results will be sent to you via email. Alternatively, you may track them at c19.redcross.org.ph/track.

Here is a list of 28 COVID-19 Testing Labs Near You.

What to do when you are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in the Philippines

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to the Philippine Red Cross for making available an alternative Covid-19 RT-PCR Test using saliva instead of nose swab samples.

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The Good News Pilipinas Team
The Good News Pilipinas Team is a group of Filipino journalists who advocate putting more good news stories about the Philippines and Filipinos on the media.