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Indonesia launches COVID-19 saliva testing

Kalbe Farma, Indonesia’s largest pharmaceutical company, announced on Thursday the launch of a saliva-based test kit for COVID-19.

Iravati Setiadi, the company’s presidential commissioner, said the test kit was developed last year and approved by the health ministry this month.

According to the manufacturer, the diagnostic test is much more accurate than others, the sensitivity and specificity of more than 95% in clinical trials.

She argued that this was much more accurate than laboratory antibody tests because it used a reverse transcription-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) method to specifically detect the nucleic acid that makes up the genetic material of the SARS-CoV virus-2.

“The results of clinical trials have shown that the accuracy of the selection is 94% and the specification is 98%,” Setiadi told an online news conference on Thursday.

According to her, the test is more convenient and practical than others on the market, and does not require special equipment.

According to the official, it will be sold under the name InnoLAMP and will cost 488,000 Indonesian rupees ($ 34).

However, Acterono Two Budiatti, the researcher who worked on the project, warned that it may also be possible to get a pseudo-positive or negative result because the test is based on pH in saliva.

Bambang Brojonegoro, Indonesia’s research and technology minister, said the test could help speed up testing and contact tracking in areas where there is no adequate infrastructure for RT-PCR tests.

He said saliva tests have been used in other countries, and the method could support the fight against COVID-19 in Indonesia, where the total number of patients currently exceeds 1.48 million, including about 40,000 deaths.

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