What you need to know about our local test kits

Published July 21, 2020, 12:14 PM

by Paola Navarette

The DOST-funded GenAmplify test kit. Photo courtesy of Department of Science and Technology

After being recalled over “minor defects” in May, the country’s first locally developed test kit for Covid-19 is now ready for commercial use. 

The Department of Health made the announcement on Sunday, July 19, citing Manila HealthTek team’s commitment to excellence and safety as they worked closely with an independent laboratory expert panel in addressing key issues of version 1 of GenAmplify.

“After several months of collaboration, we are proud to say, GenAmplify version 2, the country’s very own RT-PCR test kit, is finally ready for commercial use,” the department said in a statement.

The game-changing product—just like the other approved imported test kits—will help strengthen the country’s testing efforts, while providing more options for labs to use. 

But how does the local-made test kit differ from the other rapid test kits approved by the government? Here are some facts you should know. 

Real-time PCR technology

The product features a PCR technology, which is said to be the gold standard in testing for the coronavirus disease.

It detects the actual presence of the SARS-CoV-2, unlike in rapid antibody test kits which can only detect the presence of antibodies in an individual and not the actual virus.

Baseline cost is P1,320, but can reach P3,500 with hospital processing

The test kits cost about P1,320 each, which is significantly cheaper than the test kits bought internationally that cost about P6,000 on average, and which can yield results after two to three hours.

Founder of Manila HealthTek Dr. Raul Destura, however, said in a CNN report that this could reach P3,500 considering the additional processing and operational costs of hospitals.

Batch test results out in a day

While the PCR method can only take about an hour, local laboratory officials are likely to conduct batch testing to save cost and operation time.

In addition, health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Monday that personnel of accredited testing centers ought to go through training and take a proficiency examination before using the new batch of local test kits. 

One kit equals 20 tests

Destura said the Manila Health Tek team stuck with the term “tests” to refer to the product, so as to avoid confusion with the numbers. But he said that one kit contains about 20 tests in a box.