Zubiri asks gov’t to ‘immediately mass-produce’ UP-developed COVID-19 test kits

Published March 10, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri welcomed on Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the test kits developed by scientists at the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health (UP-NIH) to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Sen. Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

“I am very happy to hear that the FDA has given the go-ahead for the use of the COVID-19 test kits developed by our scientists over at UP,” Zubiri said in a statement he sent to reporters, a day after lashing out at the Department of Health (DOH) in his privilege speech for the lack of available testing kits amid the increasing threat of the COVID-19.

Zubiri appealed to the government to “immediately mass-produce” the approved test kits. He said he is willing to sponsor any proposal for a supplemental budget for its purchase.

“Since this is more affordable and more accessible, we will able to cater to more patients,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zubiri thanked the Filipino scientists in UP “for this speedy answer to our test kit problem.”

The lack of test kits, he said, causes panic among the public over the COVID-19 outbreak. An official of the DOH, in a Senate hearing on Monday, said the government only has 2,000 test kits at hand.

“With UP’s test kits, we can now more have a better diagnostic process for the virus, and hopefully, this will allow us to develop a better containment strategy as well, as we find out which areas have the most cases,” Zubiri said.

The DOH on Tuesday afternoon confirmed nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total cases of the coronavirus infection in the country to 33 (and not 35 as earlier reported by the agency).

A state of public health emergency has been declared in the Philippines due to COVID-19.

Read more: FDA approves use of test kits developed by UP scientists