Philippines moving to get WHO validation of locally made COVID-19 test kit

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine government has started the process of getting the green light from the World Health Organization (WHO) to roll out locally made rapid test kits that could expedite the process of confirming 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Friday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is now “in contact” with a local group of scientists from the University of the Philippines that have reportedly developed test kits for faster confirmation of COVID-19 infection.

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“The DOH (Department of Health) will ask the WHO to expedite the validation process. So it’s the WHO who will validate the kit and upon its validation that’s when we’ll roll it out,” Nograles said.

However, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque stressed that rapid diagnostic test kits need to be “vetted strictly.”

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“We will have to apply the most stringent standards of accuracy and sensitivity,” he said.

Presently, the government is relying on Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City in running tests to confirm the presence of the coronavirus disease, which has already killed almost 1,400 people and infected 64,000.

But the health department earlier said the RITM has more than enough test kits to last the current COVID-19 episode.

According to DOH, the country has no more existing cases of the virus after the patients that tested positive are now cleared and discharged.

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