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COVID-19 Testing Kits Developed By UP Scientists Will Be Set For Rollout Today!

These units are much more affordable than the 8,000-peso kits being used by medical institutions at present.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines continues to increase, which has reached 3,018 as of yesterday, April 3. 


As stated in an article published last Sunday, March 29 on ABS-CBN News, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the heightened count has something to do with the rise in the number of individuals who got tested for coronavirus. “The reason for a few reported cases of confirmed cases two weeks ago was because there was a lack of testing kits to ascertain the number of those afflicted with the disease,” Panelo declared.


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Here’s some good news: locally-made COVID-19 testing kits are all set for rollout today, April 4, weeks after receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Philippines.


Developed by microbiology and biotechnology expert Dr. Raul Destura and other scientists from the University of the Philippines (UP), the test kits are quite similar to the ones being used at present as it’s equipped with the same polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to detect the virus. According to a report by ABS-CBN News, Destura said in a press conference that it’s different in a way that it utilizes a single step multiple detection system with a turnaround time of 1 to 2 hours as compared to the others where it has to be done three times for six hours. 



With a nasopharyngealbrush and throat swab, samples are taken from the back of a patient’s throat and the inner part of their nose. How does it work then? The testing kit makes use of three vials—amber-colored with the probe connected to the fluorochrome, master mix, and PCR water, “which we used as negative control to make sure that the reaction is efficient,” he explained. “We also added an internal amplification control to ensure accuracy of the test done by the medical technologist or laboratory personnel.”


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The kits are slated for field implementation from April 4 to 25, as written in the same article. It also said that Fortunato de la Peña—Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary—posted on his Facebook account that “the Manila HealthTek Inc. reported that the first batch of reagents has arrived, which will enable them to start the manufacturing process to create testing kits that can accommodate up to 120,000 tests.” 


26,000 of them will be allotted for field implementation sponsored by the DOST and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) project as well as its distribution to various hospitals namely the Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, The Medical City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, and Baguio General Hospital. The rest of the units (94,000) will then be commercially offered by Manila HealthTek at P1,300 each—much more affordable than the 8,000-peso kits being used in health centers at the moment.