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Production of 16,000 UP-developed COVID-19 test kits a day eyed by May

The manufacturer of the COVID-19 test kit developed by the University of the Philippines and the Philippine Genome Center aims to produce 16,000 of the kits per day by May to bolster the country’s testing capacity, the company’s chief said Sunday.

Dr. Raul Destura, a microbiologist and infectious diseases expert from the UP's National Institutes of Health, said that the manufacturing facility of Manila HealthTek Inc. has been “all-out” in production since the start of April.

“We are currently manufacturing 6,000 to 8,000 tests per day and we’re hoping to increase it further to 16,000 tests per day by May 1,” he said at a virtual press briefing.

Destura was the scientist who led the development of the UP-made test kits.

He noted that, unlike other test kits, the ones created by UP are complete with an extraction kit, a viral transport medium, and two swabs.

Each kit can test 25 people.

“‘Yung test kits na na-develop natin is also an RT-PCR test katulad no’ng ginagamit natin ngayon. Ano siya, one-step test, meaning sa isang run, na-identify mo na kaagad ‘yung target plus may internal control para malaman mo kung tama ‘yung ginawa no’ng technologist,” he explained.

The Department of Health considers a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test as the “gold standard” in COVID-19 testing because of the reliability and accuracy of its results.

Destura also said that Manila HealthTek only provides its test kits to accredited COVID-19 testing centers.

Seventeen laboratories nationwide have so far been certified to conduct independent COVID-19 testing.  — BM, GMA News