Villanueva praises UP scientists for COVID-19 test kit, says gov’t needs to invest more in scientific research

Published March 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Vanne Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva praised scientists of the University of the Philippines (UP) for developing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved testing kits for the detection of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

The chair of the Senate committee on higher and technical and vocational education said the FDA’s approval on Tuesday of the test kits developed by UP National Institute of Health (NIH) scientists was a “breakthrough” in the country’s efforts against the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Sen. Joel Villanueva (Senate of the Philippines Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Joel Villanueva (Senate of the Philippines Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Truly, this is the finest hour of our men and women of the University, an accomplishment we can all be proud of. The breakthrough comes at a critical time when [the] supply of testing kits [is] limited. Congratulations to our scientists!” Villanueva, who is also a member of the UP Board of Regents, said in a statement.

He said the test kits will enable the country’s healthcare workers to diagnose persons who are infected by the new coronavirus strain.

Villanueva added that the development proves the need for the government to invest more in research through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), which funded the development of the testing kits.

“We are encouraged by this development and we will continue to support the department’s thrust to bring science closer to our people,” he said, recalling that he sponsored the DOST’s proposed 2020 budget in the Senate as finance committee vice-chair.

On Tuesday (March 10) the FDA announced that it issued a certificate of exemption for the UP-NIH’s SARS-CoV-2 PCR Detection Kit.

READ MORE: FDA approves use of test kits developed by UP scientists

The kit will be used for field testing coupled with gene sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center, it said.

READ MORE: FDA: Virus test kits from UP are faster, cheaper than imported test kits