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International agency donating P4.7M worth of coronavirus detection kits to PH 

By: Irene R. Sino Cruz - CDN Digital | March 30,2020 - 11:13 AM

The detection kits provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were formally requested by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Pasay City for the Department of Health (Philippines), and facilitated by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the IAEA with the support of the DOST-PNRI, the country’s authority on nuclear matters. | screenshot of IAEA YouTube video

CEBU CITY—An international agency is donating P4.7-million worth of detection kits for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to the Philippines.

This was revealed by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in its news release posted on its website. 

The detection kits provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were formally requested by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Pasay City for the Department of Health (Philippines), and facilitated by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the IAEA with the support of the DOST-PNRI, the country’s authority on nuclear matters.

The IAEA will be turning over detection kits that use nuclear techniques for quick, accurate detection of the dreaded virus next week. 

The detection kits use the technology called the Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR). It is one of the most accurate laboratory methods for detecting, tracking, and studying the coronavirus.

In an earlier statement, IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said they were providing diagnostic kits, equipment and training in the nuclear-derived detection techniques to countries asking for assistance in tackling the worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus.

According to the IAEA, the RT-PCR is a nuclear-derived method for detecting the presence of specific genetic material from any pathogen, including a virus. With this technique, scientists can see the results almost immediately while the process is still ongoing; conventional RT-PCR only provides results at the end.

“The real time RT-PCR technique is highly sensitive and specific and can deliver a reliable diagnosis as fast as three hours, though usually laboratories take on average between 6 to 8 hours,” the IAEA explained in an article on its website. 

“Compared to other available virus isolation methods, real time RT-PCR is significantly faster and has a lower potential for contamination or errors as the entire process can be done within a closed tube. It continues to be the most accurate method available for detection of the coronavirus,” the agency added.

The IAEA test kit would enable doctors to immediately come up with diagnosis and provide proper medical care, thus increasing the survival chance of patients, the PNRI pointed out.

The PNRI release disclosed that the IAEA diagnostic kits include microcentrifuge for sample extraction, shaker vortex, thermocycler, scanner for cryotubes, fastvirus master mix, and personal protective equipment.

It added that the €84,000 (P4,776,595) donation is expected to be delivered next week to the Department of Health (DOH), which will field it to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and hospitals that conduct COVID-19 testing.

Also, the IAEA will conduct training on the use of nuclear-derived techniques for the detection of COVID-19 when current restrictions are eased. Two professors from the University of the Philippines Manila will participate in the said training.

The IAEA donation is part of the technical cooperation project titled “Strengthening Capabilities of Member States in Building, Strengthening and Restoring Capacities and Services in Case of Outbreaks, Emergencies and Disasters.” /bmjo

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