The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test kits that were procured last year were not nearly expired.
FDA Director-General Rolando Enrique Domingo said that the COVID-19 RT-PCR test kits have a six months shelf life.
“Nung panahon na iyon, lahat po talaga ng test kits ay six months lamang po ang shelf life ng mga commercially available RT-PCR test kits (At that time, all RT-PCR test kits commercially available had a six month shelf life),” said Domingo during President Duterte’s public press briefing aired on Wednesday night, Sept. 22.
“Hindi lang po sa DOH (Department of Health) iyon, lahat po ng private laboratory, lahat ng RT-PCR laboratory—– ang nabibiling test kit po noon ay six months lamang po ang shelf life (It’s not just at the DOH, all the private laboratories, all the RT-PCR laboratories—the test kits sold to them back then had a shelf life of only six months),” he added.
Domingo said that RT-PCR test kits were considered as new technology early last year.
“So kung nakabili po ang DOH ng mga test kits na six months ang shelf life, hindi po near expiry iyon. Kung hindi, iyon po talaga ang available shelf life ng mga (So, if the DOH bought test kits with a shelf life of six months, it’s not near expiry. That’s really the available shelf life of the) test kits at that time,” he added.
The DOH also made the same explanation with regards to the RT-PCR test kits bought in the early part of the pandemic.
“As COVID-19 is a novel disease, the test kits used to detect the virus were only developed in the early months of 2020. Back then, real-time RT-PCR test kits that were available in the market had a shelf life of only six months. This was due to manufacturers having no data on whether their test kits would be stable and useful beyond six months,” it said.
“The DOH acknowledged that these products have a short shelf-life and accepted the deliveries with this limitation. The deliveries of test kits were then requested on a staggered basis dependent on the consumption of the country,” it added.
These statements from the FDA and DOH were made after Senator Francis Pangilinan questioned the procurement of test kits with a short shelf life. The Senate is currently conducting an investigation on the alleged overpriced pandemic supplies.