THE Department of Health (DOH) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) assured that no expired testing kits were released to any laboratory in the country.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said the clarification was based on delivery records and documents. He issued the clarification following reports of alleged distribution of expired RT-PCR test kits by the RITM to Baguio City.
Duque also said that unlike medicines which have shelf lives of three to five years, testing kits have significantly shorter shelf lives of six months from the date of manufacturing.
He explained that test kits are fast-moving stock that have to be utilized immediately, considering that shipment and other laboratory processes already take up part of their already short shelf life. Additionally, machine compatibility, technical issues, low testing referral count, and availability of supplies also contribute to low consumption of the COVID-19 test kits which in turn increase likelihood of expiry before use.
The health chief also assured that recognizing the importance of agile stock management for testing laboratories, the COVID-19 Laboratory Network Project Management Unit was created, and a new Information Management System has been launched.
“The PMU is now developing a more efficient and focused logistics process, while ensuring uninterrupted supply of COVID-19 test kits,” he said.
Meanwhile, Duque called on laboratories to ensure continuous operation in spite of the holidays and prepare for the anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases.
“I likewise urge all laboratories to continue operations in spite of the holidays and aid the government in meeting the increased testing demand that comes with the observed increase in cases,” he said.