Updated: Jul 2
The new normal is filled with constant adjustments and innovation towards improving defense against COVID-19 by countries all over the world. Aside from the implementation of health and safety protocols, collective strategic efforts are being directed to multiple solutions surrounding coronavirus such as providing disinfection packages for residential and commercial areas and making testing less invasive to be more comfortable and accessible to many.
On January 24, 2021, a laboratory experts panel of the Philippine government authorized the use of a new testing method to ramp up the ongoing attempts in identifying, tracing, and isolating COVID cases in hopes of curbing its continuous growth. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at a briefing that the government’s laboratory experts panel has agreed to allow saliva testing for the new coronavirus.
What is Antigen Saliva Testing?
Antigen Saliva Testing is a recently approved alternative COVID-19 testing method in some countries including the Philippines and that is, as the name implies, purely saliva-based. The process is less invasive as it will simply require an individual to place 1 to 2 milliliters of their saliva inside a sterilized vial, which has a barcode attached on it, using a funnel and that will be sealed and submitted to a laboratory for analysis.
It was also mentioned in an article of the Philippine Daily Inquirer that on [sic] August 15 last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a saliva-based method of COVID-19 testing developed in Yale School of Public Health. According to Yale, the procedure is ideal for large-scale testing and offers a number of advantages over traditional testing methods.
Before the Philippines took the spot, Singapore was the latest addition to the list of countries that are now using saliva tests as another option for COVID-19 testing: the United States, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan. It was last December when Singapore approved the use of saliva tests given that patients will need to draw out saliva from deep within their throat.
How accurate is it?
The International Sanitization and Protection Suppliers’ (ISPS) COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (Latex) has high sensitivity and specificity and is suitable for the qualitative detection of novel coronavirus in posterior oropharyngeal saliva, sputum, and stool samples.
Specific instructions for specimen collection and preparation are the following:
For posterior oropharyngeal saliva: Perform hand hygiene with soap and water/alcohol-based hand rub. Open the container. Make a “Kruuua” noise from the throat to clear the saliva from deep throat, then spit saliva (about 2 ml) into the container. Avoid any saliva contamination of the outer surface of the container.
The test should be performed immediately after the sample is collected. Do not leave the sample at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Specimens may be stored at -20℃ for up to 1 month prior to testing.
If specimens are to be transported, they should be packed in compliance with local regulations covering the transportation of etiological agents.
If samples are stored at -20℃ they must be returned to room temperature, thawed completely and fully mixed prior to testing. The samples can be frozen and thawed once and repeated freezing and thawing should be avoided.
ISPS is a trusted COVID-19 testing provider in the Philippines known for its diamond-standard execution of testing services. As an industry-leading innovator, we continually bring accredited and effective products and methods to the international market that proves its efficacy through usage in various operations for industrial, commercial or residential purposes.
Comparison of Antigen Saliva Testing with RT-PCR
Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR is still the country’s gold standard when it comes to detecting COVID-19, but now that saliva testing is already being offered, it serves as a cheaper and more convenient alternative for the Filipino public; the former costs around ₱3,800 to ₱5,000 while the latter only costs ₱1,500 to ₱2,000.
ISPS offers antigen saliva testing with a price lower than the industry standard of ₱2,000. For as low as ₱1,500, you can avail the said test and it is suitable for everyone may it be children, adults, or seniors. Set an appointment here.
Accuracy is also a reason why the saliva-based test can be as good as a swab test. The aforementioned accuracy rates of the antigen saliva test is quite close to the 99% accuracy rate of an RT-PCR test, making it reliable for laboratories and healthcare facilities.
As for the results, the waiting time for antigen saliva testing is shorter with just 15 minutes to process compared to an RT-PCR test that takes a whole day or more to complete.
Director General of FDA Eric Domingo even said that “saliva test is considered safer than a swab test as the sample is self-collected.” Having said this, the type of test keeps exposure minimal between the health personnel and patient to the point that wearing full protective equipment (PPE) is no longer required although is still highly recommended.
Saliva Testing for Travel Purposes
The pandemic surely had a drastic effect on tourism in the Philippines but the country is slowly working its way on how to revive the industry. While international travel is still on hold, the Department of Tourism (DOT) wants to boost domestic travel as a number of local tourist destinations have reopened in the new normal.
COVID saliva testing is rapidly being used in the Philippines ever since its approval especially for travel purposes which target passengers arriving in the country and nontravelers as well.
Health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stated that testing arriving passengers twice (upon arrival and five days after the first test) was a necessary safety measure to get more accurate results in their testing implementation. On the other hand, the government coronavirus task force has yet to approve the saliva-based testing for individuals leaving the country, according to PRC.
Expanding testing capacities
ISPS is a Philippine-based company licensed to administer mass testing services facilitated by medical technicians, nurses, and doctors for the Filipino community. The need for an immediate COVID response resulted in an ongoing partnership with the national government that is centered on mitigating the spread of the coronavirus through acts of sanitization and testing.
To increase testing efforts in diagnosing COVID symptoms on patients or individuals, we conduct mobile testing services, which include all types of COVID-19 testing methods (RT-PCR, Rapid Antigen Swab, Rapid Antibody, Antigen Saliva), on homes or offices depending on the client’s request.
As for those who prefer going to a testing facility, you may visit our clinic in Manila located at 273 Katipunan Ave., Corner Xavierville Ave., 1105 Quezon City or at our testing site in Central Luzon located at FG Jocson Building, 1st Street, Balibago Angeles City.
Contact us or visit our website/Facebook for more inquiries:
Quezon City Phone Number: 0917 305 8961
Central Luzon Phone Number: 0917 861 3850