Eight (8) laboratory staff from the RITM Virology Department and Molecular Biology Laboratory (MBL) trained on the use of Multiplex PCR assay for the detection of Influenza and SARS-CoV-2, under the supervision of experts from the California Department of Public Health on July 18, 2022 to July 22, 2022.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC), in partnership with the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), trained the RITM Virology and MBL staff on the use of the CDC-developed Influenza SARS-CoV-2 multiplex PCR assay called “Flu SC2.”
Mr. Hugo Guevarra and Mr. Alex Espinosa of the California Department of Public Health served as the trainors for the said activity. The participants performed hands-on Multiplex PCR training in the outbreak laboratory located in the RITM Training Center building.
“The Influenza SARS-CoV-2 multiplex PCR assay or ‘Flu SC2’ will be used by the Philippine National Influenza Center (PNIC) for the detection of Influenza A, Influenza B and SARS-CoV-2 from Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) surveillance samples. The said assay will also be downloaded to all existing and new SARI referral laboratories in the country,” says training coordinator and RITM Virology Supervising Science Research Specialist Ms. Vina Lea Arguelles.
As the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for Influenza and other Respiratory Viruses, the Institute leads the Influenza Surveillance Network and capacitates the SARI referral laboratories across the country. This training shall serve to further expand the capacity of the country’s ILI and SARI laboratory network. The finalization of the Department Memorandum on the enhanced ILI and SARI surveillance of the RITM-Philippine National Influenza Center which aims to expand the testing capacities of the referral laboratories through the use of Multiplex PCR is already underway.
US-CDC is encouraging public health laboratories (PHLs) to adopt this assay to enable efficient surveillance for both influenza and SARS-CoV-2, which will allow PHLs to save time and valuable resources. This is also part of their efforts to enhance the skills of laboratory personnel and increase the testing capacity of their partner laboratories across the globe–the Philippines included.
By Reina Manongsong, Communication and Engagement Office