The Department of Health (DOH) will look into lowering the prices of RT-PCR tests in the country, amid complaints on social media and the surge of COVID-19 infections, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Thursday.
“We will look into this,” Duque told CNN Philippines.
The DOH has previously implemented a lower testing fee for both cartridge-based and plate-based RT-PCR testing, Duque said.
In September 2021, the DOH said RT-PCR testing in public facilities should be priced P2,450 to P2,800 at maximum and P2,940 to P3,360 in private facilities.
The previous price caps for RT-PCR tests were P3,800 for public facilities and P4,500 to P5,000 for private hospitals and laboratories.
“It’s now, I think for public, it’s about 2,800 thereabouts for plate-based RT-PCR, and cartridge-based, it’s about 2,400 thereabouts,” Duque said.
“And for the private, it’s a bit higher because they have to shoulder all the testing inputs. The test kits, the human resource, the overhead cost, etc,” he added.
Duque said the government will study if prices can be brought down further.
“But we will still see if it can all be brought down further so that this will unburden our people of what they say is costly testing,” he said.
The DOH recently disclosed an updated policy to make COVID-19 testing optional for asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases and persons with mild symptoms.
The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has also been called to expand its home care package for COVID-19 patients to include RT-PCR tests.
Meanwhile, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr said the government is eyeing to vaccinate children aged four and below against COVID-19 starting April, pending an emergency use authorization of the vaccine.
Galvez previously said the government is eyeing to vaccinate around 11.11 million children of the age group before the end of June.
“Iyong children formulation na 5 to 11 years [old] might be available by the end of January. Ito po ‘yung last contact po namin sa ating mga manufacturer and we are now making some contingencies to acquire doses that we need to include the ages 0 to 4 years old (The formulation of the 5 to 11 may be available by the end of January. This is the last contact with our manufacturers. We are now making some contingencies to acquire does for the 0 to 4 years old.),” Galvez said in a statement.
Galvez also said the government is also seeking to administer booster shots for children aged 5 to 11 and 12 to 17 within this year, pending the amendments to the EUA.