MANILA – Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar on Tuesday announced that starting next month, the rapid test kits developed by the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) for African swine fever (ASF) would be mass-produced.

DA: Rapid test kits for ASF to be mass produced starting February

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MANILA – Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar on Tuesday announced that starting next month, the rapid test kits developed by the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) for African swine fever (ASF) would be mass-produced.

READ: Duterte to DA chief Dar: Come up with protocol vs African swine fever

“Mayroon nang resulta ang pinondohan nating development of rapid test kits in Central Luzon State University (We finally got results for the development of rapid test kits in CLSU, which we funded). This February, we will be mass-producing it for our monitoring and surveillance,” Dar said in a virtual presser.

READ: LOOK: Duterte tackles efforts vs African swine fever with local execs

He said hogs would be tested even without showing symptoms of ASF.

“Mas makikinabang ang hog raisers (Hog raisers will benefit from the rapid test kits),” Dar said, adding that some of the industry players have opted not to raise their average number of hogs due to the threat of ASF, resulting in the shortage of pork supply in the market.

He said the rapid test kits developed by the state university would hasten the surveillance and monitoring operations of the DA’s Bureau of Animal and Industry (BAI) and ASF-affected local government units (LGUs).

The rapid test kits will render results within an hour or less and will be much cheaper, the DA said.

Dar said his department would spend some PHP80 million for the development and mass production of Filipino-made rapid test kits.

“We are allocating an initial PHP80 million through the DA – National Livestock Program and BAI to mass-produce and distribute to LGUs the test kit, called ‘ASFV Nanogold Biosensor’,” he said.

The budget for the Bantay ASF sa Barangay (BABay ASF) program will be provided by the DA -Bureau of Agricultural Research to augment the mass production of test kits in partnership with other interested private firms and state universities and colleges.

“We can even have these test kits on standby at the port of entries for a quick sampling of the meat products entering the country,” Dar added.

CLSU-developed test kits

Dr. Clarissa Yvonne J. Domingo, professor of CLSU’s College of Veterinary Science, developed the rapid test kits in collaboration with the DA-BAI, noting that these are easy to use and can differentiate the ASF virus from hog cholera and other swine-related viruses.

The DA said the rapid test kits use nucleic acid-based tests.

They have a built-in DNA extraction and molecular amplification process that uses primers or markers, whose gene sequence was designed from the P72 gene of the ASF virus isolated from the province of Rizal.

“It can detect the presence of ASF even through surface swabbing of pig barns and delivery trucks, saliva, and nasal swabs, feces, water, semen, feeds, aspirated whole blood, or blood-soaked swabs, and even domestic flies,” the department said.

The ASF test kit, which comes with all the consumables, costs PHP3,500, good for 10 samples at PHP350 per sample.

To ensure efficacy, the test kits were tested on surface swabs taken from nipple drinkers, walls, railings, floors, and pig ways of barns; water samples of farms; ASF contaminated floor sweepings and feeds; saliva, nasal swabs, and feces of pigs; processed, fresh, and canned meat that were confiscated at the airport, and domestic flies that touched dead carcasses. (PNA)

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POLITIKO / Across the Nation

POLITIKO / Latest News

May parusa ‘pag umayaw! AFP requires soldiers to be vaccinated vs COVID-19

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) inoculation is mandatory for all of its personnel but they have the option to choose among vaccine brands other than Sinovac at their own expense.

“Thus, to get inoculated or not is not an option for the members of the AFP, it is a duty. At the most, the exercise of an option will be the option to as to what brand of vaccine they will be availing of, but the cost of which will not be paid by the AFP,” AFP spokesperson, Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in an online press briefing.

Malacañang earlier announced that the first batch of Sinovac Biotech vaccines composed of 600,000 doses donated by China is set to arrive on Sunday (Feb. 28), with 100,000 doses of which will be given to the Department of National Defense, the AFP’s mother agency.

Aside from military personnel, Arevalo added that their chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana has said that their dependents must be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, those opting for other vaccine brands who decided to forego their inoculation can do so but once they are called to duty to serve as front-liners, they will have no choice but to follow.

“They must perform their duties and task but they will have to resort to the traditional health protocol, mag-mask, mag-shield, maghugas ng kamay at mag-maintain ng social distance pansamantala habang hindi pa sila natuturukan ng vaccine na pinipili nila (like the wearing of mask, face shields, regularly washing their hands, and maintaining social distance while they are yet to be vaccinated with the brand of their choice),” Arevalo said.

Meanwhile, said AFP personnel assigned and performing duties that will expose them to Covid-19 patients are required to have themselves vaccinated with the available vaccines.

He added that the AFP will play three major roles in the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine — security, medical and logistics support operations. (PNA)

Payag ba sa barter? Bello waiting for UK’s response to PH offer to deploy more healthcare workers

MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is waiting for the response of the United Kingdom (UK) on its proposed provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine amid UK’s request for an exemption from the deployment cap of Filipino healthcare workers (HCWs).

In a telephone interview on Thursday, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said they expect the UK government to respond on the issue within 10 days.

“I told them for me to be able to recommend it to the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases), I have to be assured of the safety of our workers. The only way we can be assured about the safety of our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) is (through) the vaccine,” he said.

Bello said the UK may want to send the coronavirus vaccines so the country can immunize the nurses before they are deployed.

“For us to be able to send our medical workers, we want to ensure that they are safe and their health is secured. We don’t have the vaccine, if they want, they can send us (vaccine),” he added.

Bello said he did not provide specific quantities of the vaccines.

“Why not include all OFWs and not just HCWs. In case they are ready to give us the vaccines, I will give them the number of OFWs that will be vaccinated. I just want to be sure that those who will be deployed have received the vaccine,” he added.

The Philippine government is asking the UK and Germany to provide vaccines against Covid-19 for OFWs as part of the agreement in relation to the deployment of health service workers, particularly nurses.

The country has two bilateral agreements with the UK in 2002 and 2003.

The UK and Germany are seeking to be exempted from the 5,000 cap on the deployment of nurses being implemented by the government to ensure there is an adequate number of nurses in the country in case the need arises.

Meanwhile, Bello said he understands the reaction of the people on the issue.

“They thought I would barter our nurses with the vaccine. I just hope that before they accuse me, they should have asked me first and look at what really happened. They just criticized and what they are saying is not true,” he added. (PNA)



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