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Supply of COVID-19 test kits no longer a problem as UP-NIH commits to produce 1,000 units a week

in News/Tabloid PH News
Supply of COVID-19 test kits no longer a problem as UP-NIH commits to produce 1,000 units a week
BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 05: Symbol photo of the coronavirus crisis. Diagnosis. COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 on March 05, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Health authorities around the world are concerned about the novel coronavirus. More and more countries are reporting diseases and new infections. (Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

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.

DOH, FDA raring to implement Duterte’s policy pronouncement on vaping ban

in News/Tabloid PH News
DOH, FDA raring to implement Duterte’s policy pronouncement on vaping ban
Image via e-cigarette Reviewed

The Department of Health (DOH) welcomed the policy pronouncement of President Duterte banning vaping in public places.

Health Undersecretary Dr. Rolando Enrique Domingo said they will now wait for the executive order (EO) to be issued by the Office of the President to determine how it would be properly implemented.

“Very clear yung words ng Presidente, kung saan bawal magsigarilyo, bawal din mag-vape,” Domingo said.

For the enforcement side, Domingo said the DOH will coordinate with the police and the local government units.

As for the ban, the DOH will be working with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Domingo is also the officer in charge of the FDA.

Domingo said the DOH already released last August an administrative order (AO) tasking the FDA to regulate the sale of vapes. However, sellers managed to secure temporary restraining orders from two regional trial courts against the AO. 

“Because of the TRO, we had to put the regulation on hold; but we are fighting for it. So now they can continue selling vapes unregulated. But when we see the actual EO of the President, we will work on that immediately,” Domingo said.

He stressed that they would not just accept the argument that vaping is less harmful than cigarette smoking. “Even if you say it is less harmful, still it is harmful, and we need further studies on that.”

He recalled that some 40 years ago, regulators were saying that “cigarette smoking may be harmful to your health.” Now, it has confirmed that smoking really kills. “So we should not wait for another 40 years to say that vaping can really kill people,” he said.

Ban on use of Dengvaxia stays—DOH’s Duque

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Ban on use of Dengvaxia stays—DOH’s Duque
image credit: twitter / @secduque

Despite calls from several groups to allow the limited use of Dengvaxia amid the dengue epidemic, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Thursday (August 22) that the appeal of Sanofi Pasteur seeking to reverse the revocation of its certificate of product registration (CPR) for the dengue vaccine has been thumbed down.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the denial of Sanofi’s appeal dated August 19 was due to the French manufacturer’s “continued failure to submit post-approval requirements.”

Dengvaxia’s CPR was canceled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last February, effectively banning the use of the vaccine in the country.

“The decision concerns Sanofi’s complete disregard of FDA regulations, which were precisely put in place by law to ensure safety,” Duque said.

He added: “The DOH is committed to strong and strict implementation of our health laws and regulations. We know how critical this is to our efforts to rebuild public trust and confidence in our public health programs and in vaccines that have long been proven effective.” 

He, however, clarified that Sanofi can still apply for a new CPR for Dengvaxia, especially at this time when the country is in a state of national dengue epidemic, with the number of dengue cases about to breach 200,000 already this year.

Even President Duterte had said he is open to the use of Dengvaxia again. ”Now, compare it vis-à-vis to those who died, I want to hear the words of the experts, doctors, and we have enough bright people to tell us. I don’t need foreigners to tell me, my own Filipino scientists and doctors would tell me what to do. I will be guided by their announcements,” he said.

Sanofi failed to submit its third risk management plan (RMP), a post-marketing requirement meant to ensure public safety.

It also failed to submit fresh data on its “pharmacovigilance and post-marketing surveillance” programs. 

These reports should detail the monitoring of Dengvaxia’s effects on some 830,000 students vaccinated through the Dengue Immunization Program at the tail end of the Aquino administration in 2016.

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