Opposition senators: local testing kits collecting dust due to Duque’s inaction
MANILA, Philippines—Opposition senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan slammed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for his supposed inaction that led to the locally-manufactured COVID-19 testing kits getting stuck in warehouses instead of being put to good use.
In a joint statement, Drilon and Hontiveros said that the Philippines is using more expensive imported brands from China and Korea, reaching prices of P4,000 to P8,000 each, instead of the testing kits the University of the Philippines-National Institute for Health developed through the funding of the Department of Science and Technology.
The locally-made testing kits cost P1,320.
“The country is ramping up COVID-19 testing, but locally manufactured, world-class P1,320 PCR test kits are gathering dust in laboratories due to the inaction of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III,” said the senators on Saturday.
“Filipino scientists and doctors have started developing the test kits as early as December last year when reports about the coronavirus surfaced.”
According to Hontiveros and Drilon, the locally-made kits have a sensitivity rate of 93.96 percent and a maximum of 98.04 percent specificity at a confidence interval of 95 percent, making it among the world’s best.
The senators said that with the UP kits costing far less than imported ones, the savings that could be generated for procuring it could prove crucial in augmenting the government’s COVID-19 response.
“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? (Is there someone earning from using the more expensive testing kits?),” said Hontiveros and Drilon.
“Is there someone being favored here at the expense of Filipinos who every day face the dangers of getting infected, or who could already be carriers of the virus but are not yet being tested?”
“With the number of COVID-19 cases continuously rising, the DoH cannot afford more missteps in handling the situation because lives are at stake.”
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