The United States government has turned over RT-PCR extraction kits equivalent to 3,000 tests to the Philippine Genome Center to help strengthen COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) testing and genomic surveillance capability in the country.
In a virtual ceremony on Friday, Aug. 27, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippines Office of Health Director Michelle Lang-Alli handed over the extraction kits to Department of Health Undersecretaries Maria Rosario Vergeire and Myrna Cabotaje, Philippine Genome Center Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Saloma, and other representatives from the government and private sector.
“These kits will support the tracking of variants, which is key to curbing the spread and being in front of the virus as the pandemic continues to evolve,” Lang-Alli said.
The latest donation is part of the nearly P1.4 billion that the US government, through USAID, the Department of Defense and the Department of States, has invested to support the Philippine response to the pandemic.
Overall, the US government assistance has helped the country to implement internationally recognized infection prevention and control strategies; strengthen laboratory systems; build the capacity of frontline health workers to prevent, detect, trace, isolate, treat and manage COVID cases; communicate effectively about health risks, and roll out vaccines.
Apart from its direct help to the Philippines, the US government has also contributed P100 billion pesos ($2 billion) to GAVI, the largest monetary contribution to this global alliance tasked with increasing vaccine access to countries throughout the world.
The Philippines has so far received more than 13.3 million doses of vaccines from the COVAX facility, with more than 6.2 million of those vaccines donated by the American people.
One in five Filipinos will likely receive vaccines through the COVAX facility.
The US government is the biggest bilateral donor to the Philippines’ health sector, providing more than P29 billion ($582 million) over the past 20 years.