SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco underscored the need to bring down the cost of coronavirus disease ( COVID-19) tests particularly the gold-standard reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) swab test.
Velasco pointed out that making RT-PCR test accessible and affordable to more people would result in wider testing.
“That in turn will hasten the reopening and recovery of the country’s struggling economy and allow our people to return to their normal lives sooner than later,” he said.
According to Velasco, widespread testing remains crucial to controlling the spread of the new coronavirus disease “while we wait for a vaccine.”
Velasco made the statement as he fully expressed support for the order of President Rodrigo Duterte mandating a price ceiling for COVID-19 test kits.
“We really need to set a price that is affordable by most people, especially the poor, to encourage them to subject themselves to screening, whether they have symptoms or are asymptomatic,” Velasco said.
The Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry have been tasked by the President to set the price cap, which will be known anytime this coming week.
To date, the Philippine National Red Cross is reportedly charging the lowest price of P3,500, while private hospitals charge as high as P12,500 for a single RT-PCR test.
Velasco said fixing a cap will result in a uniform rate, adding he would prefer a price that is “lower than what the Red Cross is charging.”
He said only through increased testing will the country be in a better position to defeat COVID-19.
“More people having themselves tested will mean that the national government and local government units will be able to identify the infected faster, and isolate and treat them promptly,” Velasco said.
Velasco said the House is committed to helping the government defeat COVID-19, which has infected over 390,000 Filipinos and killed almost 7,500 as of November 6.
The House has increased the allocation for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines in the proposed 2021 national budget from the initial P2.5 billion to P8 billion to accommodate more Filipinos.