Angeles university developing COVID-19 test kits
MANILA, Philippines — Different types of COVID-19 test kits shown by clinical validation to be 90 percent accurate are being developed by a team from the Angeles University Foundation Center for Advanced Research and Innovation (AUF-CARI) in Central Luzon.
“These tests when commercialized locally can significantly contribute to the government’s goal on early detection in dealing [with] COVID-19,” Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said in his weekly report recently.
One of the test kits uses blood samples to detect a person’s immune response against the coronavirus. It will allow the determination of early and past exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and whether the immune system has responded to the COVID-19 vaccine.
The AUF-CARI team also developed two other saliva-based test kits—the COVID-19 saliva antigen and COVID-19 saliva IgA test kits—to detect SARS-CoV-2 antigen and antibodies against the coronavirus.
“[The] use of saliva-based testing is more advantageous than the current sample collection process for COVID-19 testing since saliva is easier to collect and it also eliminates the risks associated with swabbing,” De la Peña said.
The project is being funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in line with government efforts to produce locally developed and affordable diagnostic kits for COVID-19.
The first locally-made RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test for COVID-19 approved by the Food and Drug Administration in April last year was developed by the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health. Also funded by the DOST, it was manufactured by Manila HealthTek (MTek) Inc. for commercial use.
The test kits, formally called GenAmplify, were first used in October 2020. At P2,950 per swab test, they are relatively more affordable than others that cost P4,000 to P8,000 each. The price is lower because Manila HealthTek uses its own materials, facilities, and equipment to administer and process the tests. Since April this year, the company has been operating a COVID-19 swab station located in a parking area on M.H. del Pilar Street in Ermita, Manila.
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