COVID-19 testing based on saliva can be used for several purposes, including for travel, the Philippine Red Cross said Tuesday as it noted that the process is "almost equally accurate" as the gold standard reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test (RT-PCR).
A cheaper and more comfortable alternative, COVID-19 saliva tests can be used as a substitute for other virus tests in airports as allowed by the Department of Health, PRC president Sen. Richard Gordon said.
"Pinayagan na ng DOH yan, so payag na lahat diyan, pati sa airport payag na lahat diyan," Gordon said in an interview with ANC, emphasizing that the test would still use the PCR technique.
Where else can the COVID-19 saliva test be used? Gordon said it could be used by aspiring lawyers taking the Bar Exams this year, students who might soon return to face-to-face classes, as well as uniformed personnel.
"It’s almost equally accurate as the gold standard (RT-PCR)," Gordon said.
Since it requires just saliva, the form of testing eliminates the discomfort of having a long cotton swab inserted into a person's throat or nostrils which happens in RT-PCR testing. A saliva specimen is stable at room temperature and does not require cold chain transport, cutting logistics costs.
Gordon said that even if the country starts its mass COVID-19 vaccination program, testing should remain as a pillar in pandemic response.
"You cannot do away with testing, I will emphasize that a million times. Testing is the key--knowing that your enemy is out there and discovering it, that is the key. Even if you have the vaccine applied to you, that will only prevent you from having a very, very bad case of the infection but you can still infect somebody with it," he said