In its bid to help our fight against the COVID-19, the Department of Science and Technology has in its lineup four projects thru the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD). It pledges full support for its research and development of technologies and projects that will aid in the monitoring and management of the said infection:
1. A diagnostic test kit called GenAmplifyTM CoronaVirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) rRT-PCR Detection Kit Developed by Dr. Raul Destura and his team from the UP National Institute of Health, it works through a one-step multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction(PCR) platform. This kit, priced at ₱1,320 per test is much cheaper than the foreign version at ₱8,500 per test.
The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a Certificate of Exemption for the said technology which provided the go signal for field testing. Manila HealthTek Inc., the first spin-off company from the University of the Philippines, will mass produce and distribute the kits to aid in the early diagnosis of COVID-19.
2. An application for the early detection of disease called FASSTER (Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler). In partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) and DOST-PCHRD, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) developed the FASSSTER application for visualizing spread of diseases, using data from the Philippine Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (PIDSR) system, Electronic Medical Records, and SMS-based reports of primary care facilities. At present, it is used to create predictive models and visualize possible scenarios of outbreaks of Dengue, Typhoid Fever, and Measles, at specified time periods. The research team will enhance the system for use in COVID-19 surveillance and response, as it will help support planning and decision-making of the DOH, LGUs, and
3. Clinical Characteristics and Transmission Patterns of COVID-19 in Confirmed Cases and their Contacts in the Philippines – The study, which will be implemented by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), aims to determine the transmission patterns of COVID-19 to help prevent its further spread and support the DOH in crafting policies for the containment and prevention of COVID-19.
4. A Study on the efficacy of Coconut Oil and its derivatives in combatting Covid-19. In partnership with ADMU and the Duke-National University of Singapore (Duke-NUS), the project aims to test whether certain coconut oil components can diminish or prevent the infectivity of SARS-CoV2, the causative virus of COVID-19. The project will focus first on the determination of the anti-viral properties of the compounds and results will be used for further studies. Despite its relatively low mortality rate compared to the Middle East Respiratory
Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), to date COVID-19 has affected more than 100,000 people globally, including the Philippines. This led to the decision of the World Health Organization (WHO) to categorize the infection as a pandemic – which can be controlled with proper measures, as reiterated by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom.