MANILA — A Filipino biotech firm announced Tuesday it has developed a "molecular-based testing platform" to detect African swine fever (ASF), the contagious disease among pigs that has struck in several parts of the country, leading to a pork supply crisis.
Manila HealthTek (MTek) in a statement said their locally-developed ASF kit has been validated by an external animal testing laboratory that found it "100 percent sensitive and 100 percent specific."
"ASF threatens not just the livelihood of our Filipino farmers but also our food security. With many Filipinos struggling to put food on the table amid the pandemic, a pork crisis on top of that problem would be tragic. Quick detection is imperative to ensure rapid response and containment of the disease," MTek founder and CEO Dr. Raul Destura said.
The test kit has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
But upon the regulators' nod, MTek said the kits will be distributed throughout the country, including to remote areas.
President Rodrigo Duterte last May declared a nationwide state of calamity due to ASF, which slashed the local supply of pork and pushed up its prices.
Based on government pronouncements, ASF, which is fatal to hogs but not to humans, has spread to 493 cities and municipalities in 12 regions.
Pork accounts for 60 percent of meat consumption in the Philippines, where the swine industry is valued at P260 billion, the Agriculture department earlier said.
- Report from Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News
ASF, African swine fever, pork, ASF test kit, food security, hog industry, hog raisers, Manila HealthTek, MTek