“Hindi pwedeng pa-easy-easy. (We cannot be too complacent.)”
This was the reminder of National Task Force (NTF) Deputy Chief Implementer and Testing Czar Vince Dizon to the public as the country awaits the arrival of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech and from British drugmaker AstraZeneca.
In an interview over DZMM Sunday, Dizon reminded the public to still observe vigilance and follow minimum health protocols as the mass vaccination begins in March.
“Just because we’re about to receive the first batch of our vaccines, doesn’t mean we will stop following minimum health protocols. We still need to wear masks, wash our hands, and observe physical distancing,” he said in Filipino.
Malacañang announced on Thursday that Sinovac’s CoronaVac is scheduled to arrive on Sunday (Feb. 28), making it the first vaccine to arrive in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the 525,600 doses of vaccines developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford will arrive in the country on Monday. March 1.
Dizon assured the public that the national government and local government units will strengthen testing alongside mass vaccination.
“We still need to continue the detection, isolation, and treatment. The most important is detection, the testing. We cannot stop especially now that there are new variants being detected around the world. We need to intensify our testing,” he added.
The testing czar also vowed to fast-track the rollout of saliva tests.
“Pagpasok nitong mga bagong test gaya ng saliva, ay pabilisin natin ang pagpapalaganap nitong saliva test (Since we now have saliva test that’s being introduced, we will fast-track the rollout of this test),” Dizon said.
According to the Philippine Red Cross, the accuracy of saliva testing is 98.23 percent, almost similar to the 99-percent accuracy of the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
Results from the saliva test are also faster, from three to four hours, compared to the 12 to 24 hours of swab testing.