Gordon eyes reduced Covid
testing cost with saliva test
Senator Richard J. Gordon, chair and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), eyes reducing the cost of Covid-19 testing using an alternative system – the saliva test that is faster and 99.9 percent reliable.
Gordon said they are hoping that the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) would soon make a recommendation to the Department of Health in connection with the PRC’s application to be allowed to conduct a saliva test for Covid-19.
“Health Technology Assessment Council ang nag-e-examine. It’s taking them a long time, Oct. 17 pa sinubmit ‘yan at ginagamit na din ‘yan sa ibang bansa (We submitted it already on Oct. 17 and other countries also use it). Over one million Covid testing has been done using that, and has 99.9 percent accuracy,” he said.
HTAC is an independent advisory body created with the overall role of providing guidance to the DOH and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on the coverage of health interventions and technologies to be funded by the government.
It is mandated to undertake technology appraisals by determining their clinical and economic values in the Philippine healthcare system, to improve overall health outcomes and ensure fairness, equity, and sustainability of coverage for all Filipino citizens.
Gordon said the same machines used for reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing would also be used without needing the nasal and pharyngeal swabs that use test kits.
“Mas madali ito dahil hindi na kailangan ng swab sa ilong at lalamunan. Kailangan lang dumura sa test tube. Mas mabilis din mapa-process at mailalabas ang results. Walang machines na bibilhin at matatanggal din ang test kits kaya mababawasan din ang presyo ng testing. Hindi mabigat para sa ating mga kababayan na gustong magbayad dahil mas mura. Ganun din ang PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation), bababa ang kanilang gastusin na babayaran sa testing (It is faster and does not require nose and mouth swabs. Simply spit into a sterile tube. Easier to process and results are faster. No need to buy machines and test kits. Less burden for our countrymen and PhilHealth need not to pay more),” he said.
The University of Illinois launched a Manhattan Project–style effort to create a cheaper, faster Covid test.
After running a successful pilot of the saliva test during the early part of the summer, the university conducted more than 1 million Covid tests during the recently-completed fall semester. The alternative delivers a result within hours rather than days at a total cost of USD20 (PHP960) per test and is 99.9 percent accurate on specificity. (PR)