DOH denies claims RITM donated expired COVID-19 test kits

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 28 2020 03:14 PM

DOH denies claims RITM donated expired COVID-19 test kits 1

MANILA — The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine did not release expired test kits to Baguio City, the health department said Monday, contrary to claims of the city's mayor. 

“In response to reports of alleged distribution of expired RT-PCR test kits by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to Baguio City, the Department of Health (DOH) and RITM clarifies that based on delivery records and documents, no expired testing kits were released to any laboratory,” DOH said in a statement.

The agency also explained that test kits have a shorter shelf life of 6 months compared to medicines, which last for 3 to 5 years.

“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,” the DOH said.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who is also the country’s testing czar, earlier complained of receiving thousands of expired test kits.

Baguio City earlier this year was hailed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government for its best practice in contact tracing in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

DOH clarified that “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 DOH said the COVID-19 Laboratory Network Project Management Unit (PMU) and a new Information Management System were specifically created to address stock management in testing laboratories.

“The PMU is now developing a more efficient and focused logistics process, while ensuring uninterrupted supply of COVID-19 test kits,” it said.

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