Mass testing is a strategy to combat COVID-19. It aims to increase the testing capacity of the country so that suspected cases, probable contacts, frontline health workers, and vulnerable communities shall be tested.
But vaccine czar Vincent Dizon does not like this idea. Last Tuesday, April 6, Dizon insisted that instead of mass testing, it should be risk-based and targeted.
According to Dizon, the problem with mass testing is that anyone can decide when to get tested.
“Ang problema kasi sa concept ng mass testing is…pwedeng ako mismo ang magdesisyon kung kailan ako dapat magpa-test,” said Dizon.
Furthermore, he explained that the experts do not recommend such a strategy. Therefore, conducting tests for the entire country is not possible.
Dizon defended his decision to not conduct mass testing by saying that mass testing would only mean that many Filipinos would appear positive like the case in the United States.
“Ang mga bansa na may pinakamaraming tine-test sa buong mundo, katulad ng Estados Unidos, sila din po ang mga bansa na pinakamarami ang kaso. At ang masama po doon, pinakamarami pa ang namatay,” he explained.
However, his defense only made Kapuso Kiko Rustia roast him. He compared the vaccine czar to the former U.S. President Donald Trump who opposed mass testing.
Pareho pala sila ni Trump mag isip at dumiskarte.
At least gets na natin takbo ng pagiisip nya.
— kiko rustia (@kikorustia) April 6, 2021
And with Dizon’s thinking, many celebrities and netizens tried to shed light on what mass testing actually means.
Former Inter-Agency Task Force advisor Tony Leachon enlightened Dizon with what mass testing actually means. Leachon explained that mass testing is not testing the entire population. Rather, it is a way to test a large part of the populace. Since testing is crucial to contact tracings, isolation, and quarantine, Leachon said that if a vaccine czar does not understand such a concept, then the Philippines’ state will most likely be doomed.
Mass testing is NOT testing the ENTIRE population , but rather , a large part of it. Testing is crucial to contact tracings , isolation and quarantine.
If we don’t understand this concept , then we are doomed ! https://t.co/jIqe3eeJ8I pic.twitter.com/edtmzUgrAo
— Tony Leachon MD (@DrTonyLeachon) April 6, 2021
Senator Kiko Pangilinan also emphasized the importance of mass testing. The senator stressed that mass testing is important to identify who is infected and be isolated as quickly as possible.
Heto ang dahilan bakit dapat libre ang mass testing para sa lahat. Para malaman sino ang nakakahawa, ma isolate AT mabigyan ng ayuda habang in isolation.
Libreng mass testing, contact tracing, ayuda AT mabilis na bakuna ang solusyon. pic.twitter.com/HPYTSUfT7Q
— Kiko Pangilinan (@kikopangilinan) April 5, 2021
Meanwhile, GMA Network journalist Atom Araullo blasted a netizen for siding with Dizon. According to Araullo, the netizen missed the entire point of mass testing. And as Dr. Leachon has said, mass testing is a way to test not the entire population, but a large part of it.
You missed the point entirely.
— Atom Araullo (@atomaraullo) April 7, 2021
ABS-CBN actress Angelica Panganiban shared her opinion about the government’s decision to not conduct mass testing. The actress stressed that Covid testing should be free in order to have mass testing.
Last April 2, the Philippines only tested 35,000 individuals. However, experts recommended 120K per day.
With the alarming rate of Covid cases in the country, Panganiban expressed her worry about the expenses that an infected person has to shoulder. If they failed to get tested due to financial problems, the actress stressed that the individual would worry more about their expenses once they contracted the virus.
Hinang hina ka na… maglalabas ka pa sa bulsa mo ng pera, para ma swab. At malalaman mo, pasitib ka sa covid mami! Pano na pa ospital? Gamot? Mental care?! Yung vaccine ba aasahan pa namin sa inyo? D naman diba? KKB! Nakakaiyak. Ito ang emotional. #freemasstesting https://t.co/WTnQU7jQqB
— Angelica Panganiban (@angelica_114) April 2, 2021
Former PTV-4 host Jules Guiang sarcastically rebutted Dizon’s statement. The broadcaster echoed the Filipinos need—mass testing.
Mass testing hindi mass deworming.
— Jules Guiang (@julesguiang) April 5, 2021
Radio host DJ JhaiHo reiterated what the country needed since the start of the pandemic—mass testing. JhaiHo also took a swipe at Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who was seen patrolling the streets with a meter stick. With donations being received by the country, the radio host said that Filipinos need mass testing and better isolation facilities, not reminders to adhere to social distancing.
PAULIT ULIT ANG SIGAW NOON PA! MASS TESTING!! MAAYOS NA MGA ISOLATION FACILITIES. SAPAT NA TULONG. TAKE NOTE ANDAMING DONASYON AH. VACCINE PARA MAGKAROON PROTEKSYON. HINDI PO RULER RULER SA BACLARAN LANG ANG NEED PARA MAIPAKITA NA MAY SOCIAL DISTANCING. PLANO 🙏🏻
— DJ Jhaiho (@mor1019jhaiho) April 3, 2021
Singer Leah Navarro blamed President Rodrigo Duterte for his failure to address the pandemic situation. Navarro was frustrated as the government did not heed the call for mass testing. As a result, many have perished from Covid. The singer also stressed that if the government only listened to the public and medical experts, many people would have been saved.
When I think of all the people who could’ve been saved from covid and death if the goddamned govt had done mass testing, contact traced and procured vaccines early on, I cry. I cry out of anger, frustration and helplessness. Damn you, Duterte. #DuterteResign #DutertePalpak https://t.co/OQNQVogpR9
— Leah Navarro (@leahnavarro) April 5, 2021
Dizon cited the data from March 20 to April 2 that the Philippines has been conducting an average of 52,000 tests per day. But experts recommended 120,000 tests per day for a faster COVID-19 response.