DOH Usec defends not testing asymptomatic people

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire defended the administration’s policy of not testing individuals with no exposure to -19 patients.

Vergeire said 85% of virus transmission came from symptomatic people. She also made earlier statements explaining why the government will not conduct .

“85 percent of those who transmitted the disease were symptomatic. Kaya po pinaglalaban namin na huwag i-test ang walang symptoms kasi [that’s why we fought not to test those without symptoms since] it would give a false sense of security,” Vergeire said in a DOH forum.

“Kahit po RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) ang gamitin, it would still miss one third of the time. Hindi rin siya perfect. Hindi sila 100 percent. Kaya kung i-tetest ang asymptomatic [na walang COVID-19 exposure], it is not cost-effective, and it is not rational,” she said.

(Even if we use RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction), it would still miss one-third of the time. It is not perfect. They are not 100 percent. So if would test asymptomatic [with no COVID-19 exposure], it is not cost-effective, and it is not rational.)

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DOH Usec defends not testing asymptomatic people

The DOH Undersecretary earlier said the government is focused on reaching the goal of conducting 30,000 tests per day by the end of May. She said testing asymptomatic people with no exposure to COVID-19 would not contribute to achieving that target. 

“Mula pa noong umpisa, hindi namin ginagamit ang term na mass testing kasi [we don’t use the term mass testing from the start since] it might give the wrong impression na lahat [that all], ite-test [for COVID-19]. What we have is expanded testing na progressive. From testing the severe, critical, and vulnerable, we included those with mild symptoms and those with a history of exposure [on COVID-19 patients],” Vergeire said.

“Kung ite-test natin iyong asymptomatic ngayon [if we will test the asymptomatic now], bukas [then tomorrow], the person could have a different set of exposure. Do we retake it again? That is not cost-effective,” she added.

“Hindi po kulang ang testing kits natin. We have enough testing kits for everybody. What we are having problems with is logistics dun sa supply na kasama ng testing kits [para maprocess]… ‘yung mga galing abroad na reagents (chemicals) and other supplies, dahil na rin po sa international competition,” Vergeire said.