The UP Manila NIH was the first facility to use the GenAmplifyTM, Covid 19 testing kit rRT-PCR developed by Dr. Raul Destura and researchers from the NIH and Philippine Genome Center (PGC). The mass distribution of the kits started on April 20, 2020 according to the Department of Science and Technology which gave P53.2M for the development of this. Its use was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on April 3 after three weeks of field validation that covered 26,000 tests. Other institutions such as the PGC, Bataan General Hospital, Araneta Foundation, Office of the Vice President, and some local governments have availed of the kits, the DOST stated.
The Manila HealthTek, Inc, the first university spin off company, manufactures the test kits with 8,000 tests being run daily with 26,000 tests available on deck. Dr. Destura, the NIH National Training Center for Biosafety and Biosecurity Director and PGC Deputy Director, revealed plans to double the tests being run per day starting on May 1, 2020.
“As we heal as one in fighting this global pandemic, we thank the DOST for its unwavering support in the production of these test kits. We hope that we can serve more Filipinos through this endeavor and help in saving more lives against the scourge of COVID-19,” Dr. Destura said.
The GenAmplify™ COVID-19 test kit comes as a complete package with an RNA extraction device and viral transport medium that are not found in other testing kits. It can be used in any RT-PCR machine as the codes used to read the sample are open source. The complete package inclusive of VAT costs only Php 1,828.40, much cheaper compared to other kits in the international market.
Dr. Destura also guarantees the provision of full technical support on how to use the said test kit. His team already conducted training at the Philippine General Hospital, The Medical City Ortigas, Makati Medical Center, and University of San Agustin, Iloilo City in collaboration with the Western Visayas Medical Center and PGC Iloilo.
(With reports from the http://www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/index.php/news/)
Published in the UP Manila Healthscape Special CVID-19 Issue (No. 2, 25 April 2020)
(This was originally posted on the UP Manila website on May 25, 2020)