First Shipment of Fastest, Cheapest COVID-19 Test Will Arrive in the Philippines on Friday


The Xpert Xpress COVID-19 test kit by U.S.-based biotech company Cepheid will arrive in the Philippines on Friday, April 17. Around 3,000 units are being sent to the Philippines for the initial shipment, with more to come every week in increasing quantities.

The Xpert Xpress COVID-19 is one of the most accurate PCR-based tests on the market, and most likely the fastest as its turnaround time is only 45 minutes.

Aside from besting the fastest, it will also be the cheapest test available to the Philippines as Cepheid’s HBDC (High Burden and Developing Countries) compassionate pricing system is selling the tests at only $19.80 per unit to the Department of Health (DOH). With the added costs of customs, each Xpert COVID-19 test will cost only P1,200, making it even cheaper than the UP test kit.

The P1,200 price tag comes without the additional costs for reagants as the reagants are already included in the cartridge, making P1,200 the final price. However, unlike the UP test kit which can be used on multiple patients, the Xpert Xpress COVID-19 PCR test can test only one patient per unit.

The Asian Development Bank has already ordered 25,000 tests for the DOH, while Global Funds/Philippine Business for Social Progress has ordered 160,000 tests for the DOH.

The test, already the cheapest and fastest PCR-based test available in the Philippines, does not require a molecular laboratory facility as it is compatible with Cepheid’s automated real-time PCR GeneXpert machine, of which there are already 600 units nationwide.

The Xpert Xpress COVID-19 PCR test has been approved by both the U.S.' and the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration.  


“Doctors urgently need an on-demand diagnostic test for a real-time management of patients being evaluated for admission to hospitals,” said Macare Medicals, Inc. the Philippine distributor for Cepheid. “An accurate test delivered close to the patient can be transformative and help alleviate the pressure that the COVID-19 outbreak has brought to healthcare facilities.”

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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