By Roy Mabasa and Analou De Vera
The Chinese Embassy in Manila on Sunday clarified that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) test kits that the Department of Health (DOH) referred to be only 40 percent accurate were not part of the official donations made by the Chinese government to the Philippines.
In a statement, the Chinese Embassy said they immediately contacted the DOH following the remarks made by Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a live press briefing on Saturday, March 28, that they discarded the test kits from China because they only yielded 40 percent accuracy.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assured the Chinese Embassy in Manila that there is “nothing wrong” with the COVID19 testing kits the Chinese government donated to the Philippines.
Duque’s assurance was contained in a text message he sent to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.
“Hi! There is nothing wrong with the Real Time-Polymerase Chain Reaction machine which is used for generating positive or negative result as the case may be,” Duque wrote in his text message to Ambassador Huang. “Again, our gratitude and appreciation to you and the Chinese government,” he added.
Duque also clarified that the test kits from the Chinese government are “very good” and at par with the standards as those donated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and approved by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
The Embassy said they were told by the DOH that two batches of 2,000 BGI PCR-type test kits and 100,000 Sansure PCR-type test kits that were donated by the Chinese government in two tranches recently “have been assessed by the RITM to be at par with WHOprovided kits.”
“Those test kits are of high quality and standards and have no accuracy problems, which are being used in Philippine test laboratories and have helped accelerate the testing process,” the Chinese Embassy noted.
It pointed out that the test kits mentioned by Undersecretary Vergeire during the briefing were “neither tested by RITM which did not receive any kit sample for lab validation nor donated by the Chinese government.”
In the same statement, the Chinese Embassy firmly rejected any irresponsible remarks and any attempt to undermine their cooperation with the Philippines.
“Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, China has continually provided assistance as needed to support the Philippines’ battle against the epidemic. At this moment of crisis, we should fight in solidarity to overcome the epidemic at the earliest date,” it added.
The DOH clarified on Sunday that the test kits mentioned by Vergeire on Saturday referred to another brand of test kit that was proposed to be donated by a private foundation.
“Upon preliminary review of documents by RITM, subsequent validation was necessary. To minimize this extra step, parties agreed to use BGI and Sansure RT-PCR test kits for subsequent donations,” the DOH said.
“The DOH apologizes for any confusion that previously issued statements have caused,” it added.
Vergeire said test kits donated by different countries are validated to ascertain if these can correctly identify positive cases of the coronavirus disease.