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DOH apologizes over test kits claim

/ 04:53 AM March 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) apologized on Sunday for saying coronavirus test kits from China were inaccurate.

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In a statement, the DOH clarified that the initial 2,000 BGI RT-PCR test kits and the 100,000 Sansure RT-PCR test kits donated by Beijing had been “assessed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to be at par with the test kits provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) after parallel testing was done.”

‘Another brand’

“The DOH apologizes for any confusion that previously issued statements have caused,” the agency said.

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“The test kits mentioned during the press briefing by the department [on Saturday] referred to another brand of test kit that was proposed to be donated by a private foundation,” it added.

The department did not name the brand or the foundation.

On Saturday night, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the public had nothing to worry about the test kits from China amid reports that Spain returned kits that had been found to be defective.

Before the RITM uses the test kits, Vergeire said, parallel testing is done first alongside a kit provided by the WHO.

“If the results are the same, the kits are then recommended for use,” Vergeire said.

The test kits in the initial donation from China only had a “40 percent accuracy,” she said.

“We didn’t use these because of [their] low accuracy [rate] so we just kept them,” Vergeire added.

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“Our countrymen can be assured that all donated test kits are validated first before they are used,” she said.

‘High quality and standards’

On Sunday, the Chinese Embassy in Manila disputed Vergeire’s report.

In a statement, the embassy said the 100,000 PCR-type kits donated by Beijing were “of high quality and standards and have no accuracy problems.”

It said the kits had been assessed by the RITM to be at par with the kits provided by the WHO and were “being used in Philippine test laboratories and have helped accelerate the testing process.”

The embassy said the test kits referred to by Vergeire “were neither tested by RITM, which did not receive any kit sample for lab validation, nor donated by the Chinese government.”

It also released a text message from Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian saying the BGI and Sansure test kits donated by the Chinese government were “very good and up to standards as those donated by WHO and approved by our RITM.”

The first 2,000 test kits donated by China were made by Beijing Genomics Institute, or BGI Group, and arrived on March 16.

The second batch of donation consisting of 100,000 PCR-type test kits manufactured by Sansure Biotech Inc. arrived on March 21.

Spain returns kits

Earlier, the Spanish government was reported to have returned 9,000 test kits made by Shenzhen Bioeasy after these were found to have a sensitivity rate of only 30 percent.

China said the manufacturer was unlicensed.

On Saturday, the Philippine Air Force flew in more coronavirus test kits, hazard equipment and other medical supplies from Fuzhou, China.

The donations from a company in Fuzhu would be distributed to Metro Manila hospitals. The Office of Civil Defense began distributing supplies to hospitals in the metropolis on Thursday. —REPORTS FROM KRISSY AGUILAR, DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN, JOVIC YEE AND JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE INQ

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .

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TAGS: Coronavirus Pandemic, COVID-19, RITM, test kits
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