The University of the Philippines is training medical technicians in performing the qRT-PCR assay for the detection of the SARS CoV2, to support the training efforts of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for COVID-19 testing.
Dr. Jose Enrico Lazaro, director of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB) in UP Diliman (UPD), said the training program that the Institute administers will have served 80 participants in May after the first batch served on April 18 and 20, 2020.
Funded by the UP System, each training session is composed of one day each for a lecture and a hands-on workshop.
“The lecture covers the science of virus detection and the rules on sample management and data interpretation,” Lazaro said. “An exam is administered by the team at the end of the workshop, upon which a certification of completion is issued,” he added.
The certification is a requirement for the accreditation of participating diagnostic laboratories.
According to Lazaro, the NIMBB made the proposal to the DOH and RITM for UP to cater to medical technicians unable to attend the DOH and RITM training workshops because of the current high demand.
A biosafety course is required of the participating professional medical technicians. They are then provided lectures by NIMBB’s Dr. Pia Bagamasbad and the UP-Philippine Genome Center’s Dr. Benedict Maralit. Laboratory workshops are facilitated by volunteer graduate students and research assistants of the Institute under the supervision of NIMBB Biosafety Officer Mark Fran.
The Sansure qRT-PCR kit is used for the demonstration, and positive controls in the form of plasmids are used instead of human samples, according to Lazaro. The kit is the one being used by the DOH-RITM for its proficiency exam.
As of the first week of May, the NIMBB has trained participants from Marikina Molecular Diagnostics, Singapore Diagnostics Laboratory and Singapore Medical Laboratories, De La Salle University Medical Center-Dasmariñas, De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute-Dasmariñas, the Philipine General Hospital, UP Los Baños, Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center, PNP Crime Laboratory, PNP Health Service, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Divine Word Hospital-Tacloban City, Lucena United Doctors Hospital and Medical Center, Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center, Tarlac Provincial Hospital, and Hi-Precision Diagnostics.