By Marjaleen Ramos
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday said that the test kits produced by the scientists of University of the Philippines’ (UP) for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can give results in less than two hours.
“Itong bagong na-develop ng mga scientists natin sa UP-NIH [National Institutes of Health], pinaikli nila ‘yung running time to less than two hours… Mas mabilis talaga siya,” FDA Director General Eric Domingo said in an interview on Unang Balita.
The testing tool from Japan which is currently in used for diagnosing COVID-19 has a running time of 24 hours, Domingo said.
He added that the UP-developed test kits only costs less than P1,500 unlike the imported which costs around P20,000 to P30,000.
“Sa ngayon kasi talagang gobyerno pa rin naman ang magbabayad ng lahat. Itong test na ito talagang malaking kamurahan. Kahit babayaran natin siya, ang sabi ng UP, mapapababa nila ‘yung presyo to less than P1,500,” Domingo said.
“Nakausap ko ang UP-NIH, baka po by Monday talagang up and running na ang laboratory nila sa UP NIH at PGH [Philippine General Hospital],” he added.
Domingo said they also advised the developers to ramp up the production of the test kits to assist more patients. “Sa ngayon kaya nila ang 2,000 kits a week na tuloy tuloy. Ang sinasabi namin, baka kailangan nila na i-ramp up pa nila, doblehin pa ito o higit pa.”
He also warned the public not to buy any unauthorized test kits. “Only competent laboratories can do it. Wag po kayong magpapaloko.”
Domingo noted that only the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and UP have testing centers for COVID-19 in the country.
On Tuesday, the FDA approved the use of UP-developed test kits for the detection of COVID-19 following the increasing number of confirmed cases in the Philippines.
The kit will be used for field testing coupled with gene sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center.
As of Wednesday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has reached 33.