MANILA, Philippines — Opposition senators on Saturday said that in order to increase COVID-19 testing capacity in the country, the government needs to use lower-cost and locally-produced test kits developed by the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health instead of relying on imported brands.
"The country is ramping up COVID-19 testing, but locally manufactured, world-class P1,320 PCR test kits are gathering dust in laboratories due to the inaction of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III,” minority senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and Kiko Pangilinan said in a joint statement Saturday.
The Filipino-made test kits funded by the Department of Science and Technology are cheaper compared to Chinese and Korean test kits which cost more than double, between P4,000 and P8,000.
“The savings that could be generated from this kit are crucial in augmenting our COVID-19 response especially at a time when resources are scarce,” read the statement.
The senators cited an interim report indicating that the UP-developed test kits rank among the world's best and perform even better than some of the imported kits in terms of sensitivity, specificity and confidence interval.
“What seems to be holding Secretary Duque and the DOH back from giving the go-signal for the use and mass production of this Filipino-made, quality yet less expensive test kit? May kumikita ba sa mas mahal na imported test kit?”
Last Friday, the Health department said that the UP-developed test kits would be rolled out soon after the defect which caused their recall back in May had already been resolved.
The said kits have since secured special certification from the Food and Drug Adminstration, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
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