UP scientists aim to double COVID-19 test kit output by May

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 19)— The team of scientists who delivered the country's first locally-developed test kits for COVID-19 detection aims to double their production capacity by next month.

Dr. Raul Destura, Deputy Executive Director of the Philippine Genome Center and inventor of the GenAmplify™ COVID-19 rRT-PCR Detection Kit, said on Sunday the group is looking to increase its output to 16,000 tests per day by May 1.

The current production runs from 8,000 to 10,000 tests daily, capable of making 26,000 tests available.

The low-cost test kit, invented by scientists from the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health, the Philippine Genome Center, and The Manila HealthTek Inc., was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for public use earlier this month after weeks of field trial.

Destura said the testing of the kits will begin tomorrow at the UP-NIH.

READ: What you need to know about the UP-developed coronavirus test kits

The product— just like the other approved imported test kits— is seen to expedite the process and turnaround period for COVID-19 testing in the Philippines, which has recorded so far over 6,000 cases of the infectious disease.

Destura said that unlike other kits, their product boasts of a complete set for COVID-19 testing— as it also includes extraction kit, viral transport medium, and two swabs.

Destura said his team will also offer technical support for medical facilities and laboratories that will conduct the tests. He said they have developed informational videos and online modules that will help personnel all over the country in the testing procedure.

To date, the country has listed 409 fatalities due to COVID-19. A total of 572 have recovered.