#SalamatUP: Netizens laud U.P. scientists for developing coronavirus test kits

Alois Isinika

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#SalamatUP: Netizens laud U.P. scientists for developing coronavirus test kits
(UPDATED) Priced at P1,320, the kit developed by UP scientists is said to be 6 times cheaper than its foreign counterpart, which costs around P8,500

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A day after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the coronavirus test kits developed by scientists from University of the Philippines (UP), #SalamatUP trends on Twitter.

The FDA said on Tuesday, March 10, it issued a Certificate of Exemption for the SARS CoV-2 PCR Detection Kit of the UP National Institute of Health.

Priced at P1,320, the kit is said to be 6 times cheaper than its foreign counterpart, which costs around P8,500. The kit provides results in two hours. 

The kit, funded by the Department of Science and Technology, will be used for field testing coupled with gene sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center, the FDA said in a statement.

Netizens took to Twitter to show their appreciation for UP for having developed the test kits.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, who heads the FDA, said the development of test kits was a response to the “increasing number of reported COVID-19 cases.”

The health department had been under fire for underreporting cases in the country, which was attributed to the limited number of test kits – only 2,000 were available. Now, the UP National Institute of Health has committed to conducting 1,000 tests every week, said Domingo.  

Online, Filipinos praised the state university for “rightfully criticizing” the administration while being able to contribute to the prevention of more coronavirus cases.

UP has been a target of hate speech and red-tagging by state forces and administration supporters for championing advocacies and exacting accountability from our government. (Read: Activism as the foundation of the university)

Using the hashtag #SalamatUP, netizens also urged the government to put allocate more funds for education, research, and development.

Here are more tweets:

As of March 11, there are 49 confirmed cases in the Philippines. 

On Monday, March 9, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of public health emergency after officials confirmed the increase of cases. Under this status, patients suspected to have the virus could face sanctions if they refuse to undergo quarantine. – Rappler.com

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Alois Isinika

Alois Isinika is a former digital communications specialist at Rappler.