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US saliva test 99% effective; found to be cheaper, simpler

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A low-cost saliva test for COVID-19 has shown a 99 percent detection rate in the United States, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said Sunday.

The non-government organization is waiting for the Department of Health (DOH) to approve the use of the test, said the chief of the PRC’s biomolecular laboratories, former Health secretary Paulyn Ubial.

“The saliva test is cheaper and simpler to perform,” Ubial told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo, speaking in Filipino. “The University of Illinois has conducted 1 million saliva tests, and it has a 99 percent detection or concordance rate.”

Ubial said the PRC will continue its COVID-19 testing even after the government launches its immunization program later this year.

“When the vaccine comes, not everyone will be inoculated immediately.

In fact, they’re saying only 20 percent of the world’s population can be vaccinated within 2021. So, officials are looking at up to three years of vaccination to achieve herd immunity. So, our COVID-19 testing will continue,” she added.

The Philippines logged 891 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections to 477,807, even as 11 laboratories failed to submit their data on time, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.

The department cautioned the public against misinterpreting the decline in cases, as the drop could be traced to a drop in the number f patients who went to the testing laboratories during the New Year.

“The DOH asks all stakeholders to be vigilant in guarding against complacency in the fight against COVID-19,” a statement said.

The DOH reported 8,316 new recoveries, as asymptomatic and mild cases are re-tagged as recovered after completing 14 days of quarantine without developing symptoms. Sunday’s total brought the total number of patients who have recovered from the disease to 448,258, which is 93.8 percent of the total cases.

At the same time, four new deaths brought the total fatalities to 9,257, representing 1.94 percent of total cases.

This left 20,292 active cases, which are 4.2 percent of the total cases.

Of the active cases, 80.9 percent are mild cases; 8.2 percent are asymptomatic; 6.7 percent are critical; 3.6 percent are severe; and 0.58 percent are moderate.

The Bureau of Immigration, meanwhile, said Filipinos returning from abroad who have received a COVID-19 vaccine or who test negative on a swab test will still have to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in the Philippines.

The Philippines earlier expanded its travel restrictions to 21 territories to prevent the entry of a more contagious coronavirus variant first documented in the United Kingdom.


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