Supply of test kits for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will no longer be a problem by next week, with the University of the Philippines (UP) committing to produce 1,000 units every week, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said.
Eric Domingo, FDA officer in charge, said with the COVID-19 test kits developed by the UP-National Institutes of Health (NIH) already approved by the agency and pre-approved by the World Health Organization, the institute can now start producing the kits by volume.
“Ang pangako po nitong UP-NIH kaya nila at 1,000 a week tuloy-tuloy. Ang directive po e within one week, up na po dapat ang testing na ito,” Domingo said in an interview with radio station DZMM.
This will solve the supply constraints, as the country is currently buying kits from Japan. The test kit stocks right now is only about 2,000.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said the country has enough budget for the purchase of COVID-19 test kits, with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation committing to provide a P2-billion funding for it. However, even the WHO said there is shortage of supply.
According to reports, the test kits developed by UP-NIH can yield “very accurate” results in just 2 hours.
This is better than the kits from Japan, which yield results in 24 hours.
With the test kits available, the government is advising those with fever and cough and have traveled abroad to go to accredited hospitals for free screening. The P2,000 cost for the test kits will be shouldered by the government.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has risen to 33 as of Wednesday (March 11) morning. Most of these are in Metro Manila, prompting President Duterte to suspend classes in schools in the region this week. Duterte has already a state of public health emergency.