MANILA, PHILIPPINES – the country is now ready to start production of its own COVID-19 testing kits. This 100% Filipino COVID-19 Testing Kit was developed by a local team of scientists, and is cheaper than most foreign-based kits.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) announced this last Monday, March 30. At least 120,000 test kits will be available by Saturday, April 4.
The DOST announced in an earlier statement that they will prioritize the production of 26,000 test kits for field implementation.
As of this writing, the DOST will prioritize supplies for the following hospitals:
- Philippine General Hospital
- Makati Medical Center
- The Medical City
- Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center
- Southern Philippines Medical Center
- Baguio General Hospital.
DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that the remaining testing kits will be sold by the local manufacturer, Manila HealthTek Inc. at a cheaper rate than those imported from abroad.
“The remaining 94,000 testing kits will be sold commercially by Manila HealthTek at around P1,300 per kit, which is cheaper than the units currently being used in hospitals which cost about P8,000,” said dela Peña.
He added that they have enough orders from the private sector, who intend to donate them in turn to the Department of Health and other hospitals.
Filipino-made Testing Kits
The 100% Filipino COVID-19 Testing Kit was developed by a local team of scientists. Weeks before the implemented enhanced community quarantine, they were already hard at work in development.
A team from the Philippine Genome Center and the University of the Philippines Manila’s National Institutes of Health created the testing kit. They were led by Dr. Raul V. Destura, deputy executive director of the Philippine Genome Center. Destura is a microbiology and biotechnology expert. He has led this same team to produce other medical innovations that has greatly benefited Filipinos.
Affordable, yet more effective
These kits are more affordable, costing only ₱1,320 per test. Foreign kits are priced at ₱8,500. Dr. Destura’s team of 15 scientists had two weeks of sleepless nights developing it.
These testing kits help in the early detection and effective treatment of COVID-19. There are two ways that the test can be used. Samples can be taken either from inside the nose or from the back of the throat. The specimen is then sealed in a container and sent to a testing facility. There, it will be examined by a medical technologist.
This 100% Filipino COVID-19 Testing Kit is better than other tests because it only needs to be done once.
“Pag tech developer ka, iisipin mo ang sitwasyon ng lugar na mag-aadopt ng tech—kulang sa tao, kapos sa oras,” says Destura, pertaining to our local healthcare system.
“Yung ibang platform, kailangan mong gawin yung test ng tatlong beses. Ito, ginawa nating isang beses.”
Over the last few weeks, our testing capabilities have improved. More and more hospitals and clinics are being equipped for testing. The government will begin mass testing in mid-April.