Image captured from DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña’s Facebook page. PNA.

The field implementation of the University of the Philippines (UP)-developed diagnostic kits for detecting Covid-19 infection is set from April 4 to 25, announced by Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña on Monday.

According to the DOST, the test kit possessed a high specificity and efficiency through a one-step multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction platform, which basically means it’s detection levels is fast and nearly on point.

“The (ongoing) field validation for 500 tests is up to April 1. We hope to get FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) by April 3,” dela Peña divulged, adding that the DOST funded the 26,000 tests for PHP53.2 million. “Beyond that, Manila HealthTek’s production is not covered by the DOST-funded project anymore.”

In a social media post, dela Peña shared that the Manila HealthTek informed them of the arrival of the first batch of reagents which will allow the company to begin manufacturing the test kits that can supply as many as 120,000 tests.

“A certain number of test kits that can do up to 26,000 tests will be prioritized by the DOST for field implementation and distribution to the Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, The Medical City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, and Baguio General Hospital,” the post read.

“The rest will be produced immediately after the CPR is granted. These will be delivered as produced,” Dela Peña said, pertaining to the 6,000 kits being already available. He also added that the rest of the kits that are good for  94,000 tests will be sold commercially by Manila HealthTek for around PHP1,300 per kit, which is more affordable compared to other kits used by hospitals costing about PHP8,000.

The Manila HealthTek also assured they have enough orders from the private sector that intended to donate the kits in turn to the Department of Health and other hospitals, according to dela Peña.

It was on March 9 that the FDA issued a certificate of exemption for the aforementioned kit that is locally developed for use in field testing coupled with gene sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center.