DOH says sorry: 100k Chinese govt test kits are okay

By BusinessMirror

THE 100,000 Sansure RT-PCR test kits donated by the Chinese government have been assessed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to be “on a par” with the test kits provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) after parallel testing was done, the Department of Health (DOH) clarified on Sunday.

A separate assertion was made by the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

DOH made the clarification after one of its officials said that some Covid-19 test kits from China were only “40-percent accurate,” a remark that social-media posts tied to reports of  thousands of kits returned by some European countries to Chinese suppliers for being defective.

The DOH noted, though, that the test kits referred to by Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during Sunday’s press briefing by the DOH referred to another brand of test kit that was proposed to be donated by a private foundation, not Beijing’s official donation.

“Moreover, Sansure test kits [the Chinese government donation] contain all required reagents to run the test successfully. This means that no other reagents will need to be separately procured by the Philippine government to use the test kits,” the DOH said in a statement.

Upon preliminary review of documents by RITM, the DOH said, subsequent validation was necessary and such was done.

“To minimize this extra step, parties agreed to use BGI and Sansure RT-PCR test kits for subsequent donations,” the DOH added as the DOH apologized for any confusion that previously issued statements may have caused.

The Beijing government-donated test kits arrived last week and were received by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr., who has been actively networking with the Philippines’s allies for assistance in sourcing test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE), which are in short supply and are being pointed to as one cause for the high casualty rate of Filipino medical workers in the fight against Covid-19.

Vergeire was quoted as saying on Saturday, March 28: “Sa mga naunang ipinadala sa amin na test kits from China na nakapagpakita ng 40-percent accuracy, hindi po natin ito ginamit dahil nakita na nga po mababa po ang accuracy natin dito, kaya ito na lang po ay ating itinago [Those test kits sent earlier by China have shown 40-percent accuracy and so we did  not use them].”

She said these failed to meet the standards of WHO.

Embassy denial

The DOH immediately released a clarification after the Chinese Embassy in Manila demanded that the agency clear the matter.

The embassy issued the denial as the reports circulated on social media about “defective” kits donated by China.

“According to the clarification of the DOH, the two batches of 2,000 BGI PCR-type test kits and 100,000 Sansure PCR-type test kits donated by the Chinese government have been assessed by the RITM to be on a par with World Health Organization-provided kits,” read the statement.

The embassy added, “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 statement continued: “The test kits mentioned by the DOH official on 28 March 2020 during the press briefing were neither tested by RITM which did not receive any kit sample for lab validation, nor donated by the Chinese government.”

China said since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, “China has continually provided assistance as needed to support the Philippines’s battle against the epidemic.”

“At this moment of crisis, we should fight in solidarity to overcome the epidemic at the earliest date. The Chinese Embassy firmly rejects any irresponsible remarks and any attempts to undermine our cooperation in this regard.”

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