The Department of Health (DOH) has apologized on Sunday for mistakenly saying that the test kits from China registered inaccurate results.
In a statement, DOH clarified that the test kits donated by the Chinese government were at par with those from the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The Department of Health wishes to clarify that the initial 2,000 BGI RT-PCR test kits and the 100,000 Sansure RT-PCR test kits donated by the Chinese government have been assessed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to be at par with the test kits provided by the World Health Organization after parallel testing was done,” the DOH said.
“The DOH apologizes for any confusion that previously issued statements have caused,” it added.
DOH said the test kits which registered low accuracy were of another brand.
“The test kits mentioned during the press briefing by the department last 28 March 2020 referred to another brand of test kit that was proposed to be donated by a private foundation,” DOH said.
Earlier, DOH Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire said the test kits donated by the Chinese government only show 40 percent accuracy.
The DOH said the test kits from China were simultaneously used with the ones for the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure the former passes the standards of the latter.
The health department further said it authorized the use of Sansure test kits since it had the same results with those of WHO’s.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila, however, denied that the test kits that yielded inaccurate results came from its government.
Vergeire earlier said some COVID-19 test kits from China were only “40 percent accurate,” which failed to meet WHO standards.
But the Chinese Embassy said: “The test kits mentioned by the DOH official on 28 March 2020 during the press briefing were neither tested by RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) which did not receive any kit sample for lab validation nor donated by the Chinese government.”
“The Chinese Embassy firmly rejects any irresponsible remarks and any attempts to undermine our cooperation in this regard,” it added.
Following Vergeire’s remarks, the embassy said it sought immediate clarification from the DOH.
“According to the clarification of the DOH, the two batches of 2,000 BGI PCR-type test kits and 100,000 Sansure PCR-type test kits donated by the Chinese government have been assessed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine(RITM) to be at par with World Health Organization-provided kits,” it said.
“Those test kits are of high quality and standards and have no accuracy problems, which are being used in Philippine test laboratories and have helped accelerate the testing process.”
In a second statement, the Chinese Embassy sent details of the text message of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian on Sunday morning.
Duque’s message to Huang, according to the embassy, said: “Hi! There is nothing wrong with the REAL TIME-POLYMERASE CHAIN REACTION machine which is used for generating positive or negative result as the case may be!”
“Again your Test Kits BGI and SANSURE BIOTECHNOLOGY are very good and up to the standards as those which were donated by WHO and approved by our RITM. AGAIN OUR GRATITUDE AND APPRECIATION TO YOU AND THE CHINESE Government.”
On Saturday, Vergeire was quoted as saying in a briefing that, “Sa mga naunang ipinadala sa amin na test kits from China na nakapag-pakita ng 40 percent accuracy, hindi po natin ito ginamit dahil nakita na nga po mababa po ang accuracy natin dito kaya ito na lang po ay ating itinago.”
“Sa kaso po ng mga test kits from China, sabay po’ng isinasagawa ang test kits mula sa China at ang test kits ng WHO, gamit ang pareho po’ng samples or specimens na nailagay,” Vergeire said. “Makakasiguro po ang ating mga kababayan na atin po’ng vina-validate pa ho ang ating mga donasyon na test kits bago po natin ito gamitin,” she added.
Thousands of test kits from China were earlier reported to have produced inaccurate results in Spain and Czech Republic.
The Chinese Embassy reminded the Philippines that since the COVID-19 crisis, China has continually “provided assistance as needed” to support its battle against the deadly virus, which was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan and killed more than 25,000 across the world.
“At this moment of crisis, we should fight in solidarity to overcome the epidemic at the earliest date,” the embassy said./Stacy Ang