Maggie Wilson went on a social media rant slamming the government over the lack of free COVID-19 antigen tests in the country. She also called out resellers who are doubling the prices amid another wave of cases.
The entrepreneur and former beauty queen shared on her Instagram Story on Jan. 10 telling her followers about her attempt to buy test kits for a friend's family.
“So, I inquired about buying a box of antigen test kits for a friend who’s based in the U.K. for her family, here in the PH. The prices of a box of [20 to 25] kits have now doubled,” she said.
She added: “It’s disgraceful how the people who are selling them are taking advantage of the situation and upping the prices due to demand. Greed!”
Wilson continued that it is a disgrace that the Philippine government "does not offer" antigen kits for free unlike that in the UK.
“In the U.K., anyone can walk in to a pharmacy and ask for a box of [lateral flow] test kit for FREE. Each kit even has a QR code where you can scan and register your results on the National Health Service website,” she shared.
Calling the situation "shameful," she noted that the COVID-19 test kits in the Philippines can go as high as P10,000 per box.
Currently, there are no funds allotted for free mass testing in the 2022 national budget, says House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate in a statement last Jan. 4.
“There are no money for free mass testing for vulnerable persons, essential workers, and employees, but there is money to buy missiles, helicopters and war materiel,” he lamented.
There are, however, two manufacturers of self-administered home test kits for COVID-19 that have submitted their application for special certification to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In the meantime, acting director-general Oscar Gutierrez reminded the public that there are currently no FDA-approved self-administered test kits in the Philippines. He also added that all tests must be administered by health care professionals.
Meanwhile, in the US, the Biden administration announced that private health insurers will be required to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for people on their plans.
This was after President Joe Biden faced criticism over the holiday season for a shortage of at-home rapid tests.
Singapore, on the other hand, gave out free kits to their residents last year. Between August and September, they handed out six rapid antigen kits per household, and another 10 between October and December,
Other countries like Malaysia, Germany, France, and Portugal have set a price cap on take-home kits. These rapid antigen kits are available in supermarkets and pharmacies and are priced at around RM 5, €1.50, €6 and €2.50 per test respectively.