UP-Developed Test Kits Set for Rollout Next Week

Field validation for the kits is set to be completed on April 1.

(SPOT.ph) The World Health Organization has said time and again that the number-one way to combat the continuous spread of COVID-19 across the globe is: "test, test, test." South Korea, which has more than 9,000 positive cases to date, is regarded as the model when it comes to following the mass-testing protocol with up to 20,000 people being tested every day for free. The Philippines will hopefully follow suit as testing kits developed by the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health are scheduled to complete field validation on April 1.

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In an update by Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, he explained that the Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue the Certificate of Product Registration for the local testing kits on April 3 should the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) complete the requirements for certification on April 1. Up to 1,300 testing kits, which is good for 26,000 tests, will be manufactured by The Manila HealthTek Inc. and will be distributed to the Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, The Medical City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, and Baguio General Hospital. This field implementation is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the UP-NIH.

Another set, which is good for 94,000 tests, will be sold by The Manila HealthTek Inc. at P1,300, much cheaper than the foreign-made kits sold at P8,000.

The next hurdle that the local government is addressing is the lack of Department of Health-accredited laboratories for the processing of test kits. In a press release by the health department on March 20, it was explained that five laboratories are already operating alongside the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, which was previously the only approved facility for COVID-19 testing. These are San Lazaro Hospital, and Baguio General Hospital & Medical Center for Luzon, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center for Visayas, and Southern Philippines Medical Center for Mindanao. Western Visayas Medical Center and Bicol Public Health Laboratory are already undergoing proficiency testing. Other private hospitals, including St. Lukes Medical Center Global City, Makati Medical Center, The Medical City, St. Lukes Medical Center in Quezon City, and Chinese General Hospital, are also undergoing assessment.

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