Message from UP President Danilo L. Concepcion
UP’s response to COVID-19
11 March 2020
Dear members of our UP community and fellow Filipinos,
As the national university, the University of the Philippines is mandated to take the lead in the nation’s quest for true, equitable and sustainable development by harnessing the expertise of its academic and scientific community to address the nation’s most pressing problems, one of which is the COVID-19 outbreak.
The University can only fulfill this mandate through the active cooperation of and partnership with other national and local government agencies and the private sector. In this light, we in UP welcome the Certification of Exemption by the Food and Drug Administration for the SARS CoV-2 PCR detection kit developed by UP Philippine Genome Center Deputy Director Dr. Raul Destura and other scientists and researchers from the UP Manila National Institutes of Health and the PGC.
This SARS CoV-2 detection kit was developed with funding from the Department of Science and Technology through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. It is currently being manufactured and stockpiled by Manila HealthTek, Inc. The GenAmplify™ COVID-19 rRT-PCR Detection Kit, as it is called, will be used for field testing coupled with gene sequencing at the PGC. Using the local GenAmplify™ will cost only around Php1,320 per test, in contrast to the foreign kit which costs around Php8,500 per test. Around 200 GenAmplify™ kits can be produced in a week, and enough kits are in stock now for around 6,000 tests, with more orders for around 20,000 tests already expected.
This SARS CoV-2 detection kit developed by UP scientists will greatly help in the early detection and effective treatment of COVID-19. The FDA’s issuance of a Certificate of Exemption for the kit will ensure that this locally produced technology will be made available to a greater number of Filipinos at much less cost.
With the increased availability of testing, we can expect that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 will likely grow in our country and perhaps in our university community. This might become a source of anxiety and concern, even fear. However, we assure you that the UP administration is taking immediate and appropriate action in response to this outbreak, with the guidance of our experts from the PGC, PGH and UP Manila.
To respond to the possible increase in the number of patients infected through local transmission, the PGH has protocols in place, which include:
1. Setting up hospital response to assure readiness and safety of health staff triage, diagnose, manage patients suspected and confirmed to have the COVID-19, including the creation of an Incident Command System or COVID Task Force.
2. Training front-liners and paramedical staff to address technical proficiency and emotional/occupational concerns related to COVID-19.
3. Disseminating information and communicating risk about COVID-19 to the members of the UP community and the public.
4. Preparing the public for COVID-19 through public education.
I strongly exhort all the members of our university community and the public to please study and practice the good habits and measures to prevent infection, as described in our previous health advisory. For members of the UP community who have a travel history to countries with confirmed cases and are exhibiting respiratory symptoms, please seek consultation with your University Health Service on campus or go to the nearest health facility. We must all work together to keep our campuses and our communities safe, not just for ourselves but for all members of our University.
Ultimately, the development of the nation and the protection of health and wellbeing of its people are the purpose of the University of the Philippines. UP stands at the ready to serve the Filipino people with honor, excellence and compassion.
Danilo L. Concepcion