DOH conducts survey to ascertain price range for RT-PCR test

The Department of Health (DOH) said that it is currently conducting surveys to determine the price range for the RT-PCR test, which is considered as the “gold standard” in diagnosing coronavirus disease (COVID-19), after the agency recently proposed to set a price cap on the said testing method.

A taxi driver (R) gets tested by health workers (L) for coronavirus COVID-19 at a makeshift testing station in a carpark in Hong Kong on July 19, 2020. - The deadly coronavirus is spreading out of control in Hong Kong with a record 100 new cases confirmed, the finance hub's leader said as she tightened social distancing measures to tackle the sudden surge in infections. (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP)

“We have already instructed our concerned offices to do the preparations like survey the price range of the different testing methods currently in the market,” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“This will allow us to immediately issue specific guidelines in the event that our proposal gets a favorable decision from the Office of the President,” she added.

The DOH announced last month that it submitted a recommendation to the Malacanang to issue an executive order that would place a price cap on COVID-19 swab test after they noticed the varying prices of the said testing method in different laboratories and health facilities.

Omnibus testing guidelines

In a related development, the DOH has yet to finalize the complete guidelines on the use of the different testing methods for COVID-19.

“It has been stalled. Dapat ilalabas na natin di ba bago mag September 11 kaya lang naglabas ang ating WHO (World Health Organization) ng kanilang rekomendasyon na itong antigen test ay hindi pwede gamitin for specific circumstances. So ito ay nagkaroon ng biglang pagbabago ang rekomendasyon ng ating mga eksperto dahil dito ,” said Vergeire.

The Health official said that the pilot test for antigen testing should be completed first before they could release the omnibus guidelines. The pilot test for antigen testing is currently being conducted in Baguio City.

“Kailangan kasi kumpleto yung choices namin ng testing methods kung ano ang appropriate na gamitin ,” said Vergeire.

“Hopefully by the week after next week we can already present and formalize these guidelines,” she added.