UP scientists-developed COVID-19 Test Kit now FDA-approved for local use

HSBC Philippines
COVID-19 test kit
UP NIH scientists led by Dr. Raul Destura and backed by DOST were able to create the COVID-19 rapid test kit. Photo from the Philippine Genome Center.

A new rapid test kit for COVID-19 developed by the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UP NIH) scientists has finally secured a certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), allowing its use in early screening for positive cases.

The FDA announced on Monday, March 9, 2020, its issuance of a Certificate of Exemption for the SARS CoV-2 PCR Detection Kit developed by the team of Dr. Raul Destura from the UP NIH in January.

Manila Healthtek, owners of the Rapid COVID-19 Test Kit, told Good News Pilipinas that the Rapid Test Kits for COVID-19 are polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based and would need PCR machines, also known as thermocyclers/DNA amplifiers to work.

The Filipino technology developed by UP scientists, funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), is less expensive than available test kits from other countries, will take less time to perform the test, and will be used for field testing coupled with gene sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center.

FDA chief and Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said, “The increasing number of reported COVID 19 cases will require immediate diagnosis and monitoring. This will provide our laboratories with technological reinforcement to accommodate the growing number of patients to be tested and aid in early screening of positive cases.”

“Furthermore, this will provide greater access to a less costly diagnostic procedure,” Domingo added.

The Philippines is now on a Public Health Emergency Code Red status following reports of local transmission of the COVID-19. As of this writing, the cases have jumped to 35 and has caused schools and offices in Metro Manila and nearby provinces like Cavite to suspend operations.

Dr. Destura and his team had first developed the rapid diagnostic kit for dengue confirmatory testing of infection in the first 0-5 days of illness and is known as the Lab-in-a-Mug or the Biotek M Dengue Kit released by the startup company Manila HealthTek. The test kit has passed the ASEAN panel of experts for use in the region.

Meantime, since there are still no known cures or vaccines against the novel coronavirus, people are advised to boost their immune system and health with Malunggay (Moringa) and Coconut Oil and to practice proper hygiene like handwashing.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to UP scientists for their innovation that brings much-needed assistance in this time of COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines!

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Aurora Quadra-Balibay
Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.