The Department of Health on Sunday said the COVID-19 test kit developed by the University of the Philippines has been approved for commercial use.
DOH's approval came after calls of several senators to use the UP test kits to diagnose COVID-19 symptoms.
“After several months of collaboration, we are proud to say GenAmplify version 2, the country’s own RT-PCR test kit, is finally ready for commercial use,” the DOH said in a statement.
On Saturday, senators urged DOH to use the locally-produced testing kit as the country aims to test more individuals for the novel coronavirus.
Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon, and Senators Risa Hontiveros and Kiko Pangilinan said in a joint statement that the UP test kits’ cost is just a fraction of the other test kits from China and Korea.
"Developed by the UP-National Institute for Health and funded by the DoST, the Filipino test kit continues to face hurdles even as imported brands coming from China and Korea, costing more than double at between P4,000 and P8,000, enter the country without difficulty," they said.
"What seems to be holding Secretary Duque and the DOH back from giving the go-signal for the use and mass production of this Filipino-made, quality yet less expensive test kit? May kumikita ba sa mas mahal na imported test kit?" the senators said.
On Sunday, Senate Committee on Health chair Senator Bong Go called on concerned government agencies to use the testing kits that UP developed.
“Kung nasiguro nang mabisa ito matapos dumaan sa validation, gamitin na natin ito para mapaigting pa ang kakayahan nating mag Test, Trace and Treat,” he said.
“...Huwag nating sayangin ang oras at resources na meron tayo na kayang makapagligtas ng buhay ng kapwa nating Pilipino,” he added.
DOH explained that the manufacturer Manila Health Tek team had to work with an independent laboratory expert panel to address some issues of GenAmplify version 1.
“We, at the DOH and DOST-PCHRD, are proud of our homegrown scientists who continue to use their talent to benefit not only the Filipino people but the rest of humanity as well,” it said.
“We appreciate the Manila Health Tek team for their commitment to excellence and safety…,” it added. —LBG, GMA News