Testing czar Dizon admits PH not testing enough

Published September 1, 2021, 3:26 PM

by Gabriela Baron

National Task Force Deputy Chief Implementer and Testing Czar Vince Dizon admitted on Wednesday, Sept. 1, that the Philippines is not testing enough.


During a public briefing, Dizon said peak single-day COVID-19 testing is at 80,000, with a daily average close to 70,000, however, admitted that it’s still not enough.

“To the question is it enough? I don’t think it’s enough to be honest. But what we have to understand is we always follow the advice of our experts that we cannot just test shotgun. Meaning, we’ll just test without basis,” Dizon said in a mix of Filipino and English.

“It needs to be risk-based, it needs to be based on the guidelines that have been approved by our experts and by the Department of Health,” he added.

Dizon said the country will carry on with its risk-based approach in detecting COVID-19 cases, which targets to test those symptomatic, close contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals, close contacts of symptomatic, and persons living in areas considered as high risk.

“The reason is not just based in science, but this is a practical issue. It’s very easy to say let’s test 150,000 a day. However, at the current price of each RT-PCR, with the lowest probably P2,000, if we will test, for example, 10 percent of our population daily, then we would need to test 10 million Filipinos daily. P2,000 times 10 million, that’s P20 billion per day,” the testing czar lamented.

“At this rate already, we are already spending P160 million a day from the pockets of our citizens who are paying for the tests and from PhilHealth. Napakalaking pondo po nito,” he added.

Dizon said it’s “outrageous” because the national government “doesn’t have enough money” to carry more tests daily.

“Maybe we should also consider practical and on-ground implications. Every time we need to test, contact trace, isolate, vaccinate, we’re spending money.”