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UP-developed COVID-19 test kit cuts running time from 24 hours to 2 —FDA

The test kit for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) developed by scientists from the University of the Philippines (UP) can yield result in less than two hours, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Wednesday.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo said the testing tool from Japan, which is currently being used to diagnose COVID-19, has a running time of 24 hours.

“Itong bagong na-develop ng mga scientists natin sa UP National Institutes of Health, pinaikli nila ‘yung running time to less than two hours,” he said in an interview on Unang Balita.

On Tuesday, the FDA approved the use of locally-developed test kits for the detection of novel coronavirus as confirmed cases of the deadly disease continue to mount.

The test kit costs less than P1,500, cheaper compared with the imported ki  at P20,000 to P30,000, according to Domingo.

“Sa ngayon kasi gobyerno pa rin naman ang magbabayad. Kahit babayaran natin siya, ang sabi ng UP, maibababa nila ‘yung presyo to less than P1,500,” he said.

Domingo, meanwhile, warned the public against buying unauthorized test kits, noting that only the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and UP have testing centers for COVID-19 in the country.

Earlier, the Department of Health (DOH) said it would expand the coverage of tests involving potential coronavirus patients as soon as it received enough supplies. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III issued the statement after Senator Panfilo Lacson said the department may have “underreported” COVID-19 cases “albeit unintentionally.”

“This is largely because of our limited testing supplies. As soon as we get more, then we will be able to expand the coverage of who will be tested,” Duque said.

Domingo said the FDA advised the test kit developers to ramp up the production to accommodate more suspected patients.

In a separate statement, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the developers would conduct validation of 500 tests for COVID-19 to enable them to undertake "clinical sensitivity analysis as a precondition set by the FDA."

“Once it passes the clinical tests, the FDA will grant full access by all hospitals, as guided by the DOH,” he said, adding private hospitals have signified their intention to join the field validation.

Nograles is a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the body overseeing government efforts in addressing the threat of the deadly virus. —with Virgil Lopez/KBK/AOL, GMA News