Apl.de.Ap Foundation, entrepreneur donate Covid-19 tests kits to UP-PGH

| Written by Padayon UP

Members of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of San Francisco gathered in-person for the first time since the pandemic for their annual Christmas party.

The event was extra special because they were joined by the Fil-Am Grammy award-winning rapper of the Black Eyed Peas, apl.de.ap, as well as entrepreneur and UP alumnus, Yobie Benjamin.

Just in time for Christmas, Benjamin and the Apl.de.Ap foundation are donating $2.85 million worth of Covid-19 test kits to the UP-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH).

“I am a product of someone else’s generosity. I grew up in the Philippines and was sponsored as a kid and given an education, and became a Black Eyed Pea. So it’s really important for me to always pay it forward,” apl.de.ap says.

The donation of 300,000 test kits to the Philippines was made possible by Benjamin and his partner and creator of the kits, Dr. Larry Jai of Zymo Research. They will be distributed at UP-PGH and by UP students.

Benjamin say the kits do not need to be refrigerated following testing. He adds that it was created with safe-handling in mind. “The leaking is a critical part of this invention because you don’t want little pandemics running around the lab. We also believe that saliva as a sample collection method is easier than a nasal swab,” Benjamin explains.

According to Benjamin, the kits are compatible with UP-PGH’s PCR machines and can be used immediately after it arrives. The kits can also produce results within a shorter period of time. “It used to be 24 hours but I think now, we can turn around the test in 5 or 6 hours,” PGH director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi says.

UP President Danilo Concepcion called the test kits a much-welcomed Christmas gift to the Philippines.

“The test kits may help check the spread of disease in one family or ease the anxiety in another, make the process of admission and treatment faster and more efficient, and help our scientists collect the much more accurate data of the progress of the pandemic in our country,” Concepcion asserts.

Concepcion adds that with the kits and with more people getting vaccinated, UP is projected to return to in-person learning by next year.

(This article, written by Rommel Conclara, was first published in the ABSCBN News Website on December 22, 2021)