MANILA – The country's laboratory experts are studying the possibility of using saliva as a specimen for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) testing, a health official said Wednesday.

In a virtual media forum, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the Department of Health (DOH) learned about the saliva-based test for more than three weeks already.

"Ibinigay na sa ating laboratory experts panel ang information para pag-aralan at tingnan ang (The information were given to our laboratory experts panel to be studied and to look into the) experiences of other countries using this method. When we get information, we will provide everybody," Vergeire said.

She also clarified that the saliva-based test is "not a method of testing".

"It's a method of collecting, or what sample you're supposed to use because now the samples we're getting, it's coming from the nasal, oropharyngeal in the throat and we also use the lower respiratory tract when the patient is in the hospital," she said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Citing that saliva includes food particles, Vergeire said laboratory experts showed that using them as specimens "could be tedious".

"So, as to the testing methods, we have RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction), geneXpert, rapid antibody test, antigen test, these are the testing methods we continue to study even if they're already being used," she added.

On August 15, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization to Yale School of Public Health for its SalivaDirect Covid-19 diagnostic test which processes saliva samples for testing Covid-19 infection. (PNA