Health and Fitness

UP Creates Faster and Cheaper COVID-19 Test Kits

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A possible "underreporting" of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has been acknowledged by the Department of Health—especially with the lack of test kits available. But it seems we might soon have a solution: a locally made test kit developed at the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health, or UP-NIH, was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration yesterday, March 10. These test kits yield results in just around two hours, according to a report by ABS-CBN News, while the imported kits currently in use take around a day.

Aside from bringing down the time needed to confirm whether a person has COVID-19 or not, these locally developed test kits also cost less to use. Prices are pegged at P1,320—way below the P8,500 price tag of kits from abroad. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has said that the government will shoulder the cost of screening.

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The detection kits for SARS CoV-2 PCR—the official name for the novel coronavirus—starts rolling out next week. It was developed by Dr. Raul Destura and his team at the UP-NIH early in February and, while given the go signal by the Food and Drug Administration, will need two to three months to be fully approved by the World Health Organization.

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For the UP-NIH test kits, current supply is at 6,000 and around 200 can be made in a week, depending on the supply of raw materials, according to a report by GMA News Online. "Ang pangako po nitong UP-NIH kaya nila at 1,000 a week tuloy-tuloy," said Food and Drug Administration chief Eric Domingo.

Latest reports counted the dwindling numbers of 2,000 test kits available in the country, with the Department of Health (DOH) waiting on 4,500 more from the World Health Organization. With the addition of these UP-NIH test kits, actual cases of COVID-19 will ideally be more accurately recorded. In the meantime, don't forget to wash your hands!

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This story originally appeared on Spot.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Mia Rodriguez for Spot.ph
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