The Department of Health has announced that the Philippine-made, low-cost “gold standard” test kits for the coronavirus disease 2019 are finally ready for commercial use.
“After several months of collaboration, we are proud to say, GenAmplify version 2, the country’s very own RT-PCR test kit, is finally ready for commercial use,” the DOH said. It cited the Manila HealthTek team’s commitment to excellence and safety as they worked closely with an independent laboratory expert panel in addressing key issues of the version 1.
The COVID-19 test kits developed by the University of the Philippines National Institutes for Health are cheaper than imported test kits. The Chinese and Korean brand reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction test kits cost from P4,000 to P8,000. The local version cost around P1,300.
With the local test kits having passed the validation, its use by the government could generate savings that could be used for other aspects of pandemic response.
Months have already been wasted by the lack of urgency from the DOH and Health Secretary Francisco Duque. Aside from the national frustration, questions have already been raised regarding the government’s preference for the more imported COVID-19 test kits. It would be a shame if certain groups were profiting from this crisis.
Now that the locally-made test kits have finally been validated and hopefully available, Filipinos are counting on it to reduce the costs of much-needed testing without sacrificing accuracy. This cost effective COVID-19 test will be critical in the push to have more Filipinos being tested so the pandemic that continues to rage because of insufficient testing from the outset can finally be contained and the flattening of the curve turned into reality instead of wishful thinking.
If the low-cost “gold standard” test kits are ready for commercial use and available, nothing should stop the DOH and our government from moving heaven and earth to make testing accessible for more Filipinos.*