Locally-developed COVID-19 testing kits expected to be available starting next week – DOST

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2020   •   830

Laboratory in action. A university researcher of the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao loads extracted samples in a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) machine at the biotechnology laboratory of UP Mindanao. The same technology is used for the detection of COVID-19. (File photo by PGC Mindanao/UP Mindanano)

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Monday said that around 120,000 locally-developed testing kits for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are expected to become available starting next week.

In a statement, the DOST said the ongoing field validation for the testing kits is expected to be completed by Wednesday, April 1, while the issuance of the Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected on Friday, April 3.

DOST Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña said the first batch of reagents have arrived which will enable the Manila HealthTek Inc. to manufacture the testing kits.

The production of the kits that can do up to 26,000 tests will be prioritized for field implementation and distribution to hospitals that can conduct the testing, he added.

These hospitals are the Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, The Medical City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, and Baguio General Hospital.

“From April 4 to 25, there will be a field implementation for the 26,000 tests funded under the DOST and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) Project,” the DOST chief said.

“The remaining testing kits good for around 94,000 tests will be sold commercially by Manila HealthTek at around P1,300 per kit which is cheaper than the units currently being used in hospitals which cost about P8,000,” he added.

Dela Peña also said that the Manila HealthTek have enough orders from the private sector who intend to donate them in turn to the Department of Health (Philippines) and hospitals.

Local inventor, DOST to develop disinfection unit for COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A local inventor and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are developing a disinfection unit for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, inventor and CEO of Parasat Cable TV, handed over his innovation to the DOST. The project aims to help healthcare frontliners to conserve Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Paras’ innovation called the Parazap is a portable ultraviolet room disinfection unit that is electrically operated. The machine consists of two sets of UV-C germicidal lamps that can accommodate up to 10 N95 masks in one cycle.

“The device is designed to disinfect PPEs specifically N95 masks, killing almost 99% of microorganisms by means of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation,” according to the media release of the DOST.

“In partnership with Engr. Paras, the DOST through its Regional Standards and Testing Laboratories (RSTL) and COVID-19 Response Disinfection Team will assess and evaluate the efficiency of the equipment through testing of N95 masks for growth of available microorganism stock cultures before and after treatment in the UV-C chamber,” the DOST added.

Meanwhile, the DOST is also in need of respirator and ventilator parts for COVID-19 patients. According to DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, ventilators in small hospitals are depleting.

“Lalong humirap ang pag-import ng ventilator kasi nag-aagawan ng supply, (Importing ventilators is getting more difficult because there is competition for supply),” he said.

Two prototypes of 3D-printed ventilator parts and respirator Venturi valves were already turned over by DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI) to the National Children’s Hospital in Quezon City.

De la Peña said they will proceed with mass production once the prototypes work well in the first recipients. AAC

IATF approves Phl participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the proposed participation of the Philippines in clinical trials that seek to formulate a potential vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Based on IATF Resolution No.39 dated May 22, 2020, the task force has also ordered the creation of a sub-technical working group which will be led by the DOST.

The group will be coordinating with the four collaborating organizations composed of the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to the said clinical trials.

The IATF has also issued a directive to the FDA to facilitate the processing of necessary permits for the conduct of the clinical trials in the country.

The collaborating organizations for the clinical trials are the Adimmune Corporation, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Science- Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, the Sinopharm – Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and the Beijing Institute.

Once the clinical trials are undertaken, these will be included in the FDA’s requirements for the registration process for the vaccine and the application for certificate of registration to make the vaccine available in the market.

The Philippines has initially participated in the WHO’s clinical trials, which include the testing of off-label drugs that show potential of being effective against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the IATF has also approved the plans of the DOST to construct research centers for the local vaccine research development.

These include the Virology S&T Institute at the New Clark City in Tarlac and the reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit of the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute. —(from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

Duterte approves hiring of additional workers for FDA, DOST

Marje Pelayo   •   April 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is busy processing applications for licenses of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test kits and all other products necessary in the country’s fight against the global pandemic.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), meanwhile, is focusing on research and development of treatment or vaccine against COVID-19.

Due to the volume of work and the high demand for additional workforce, President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the two agencies to hire more personnel to join the government’s COVID-19 response.

“I have authorized these two offices — the FDA and the DOST — to employ as much as many that would be required to expedite [the processes] and to enable the agencies to work day and night. As I have said, we are fighting a war here, a crisis,” the President said in Filipino during his live address to the nation on Monday (April 27).

Meanwhile in his Joint Congressional Oversight Committee report, the President noted that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) already approved the hiring of additional workers for the Department of Health (DOH). 

The DOH requested for additional 15,757 healthcare professionals who will be given three-months contract of service and will be funded with P2.7-billion.

The DOH said seven hospitals have signified their request for additional medical personnel to cope with the volume of workload in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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