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'Shameful!' Maggie Wilson Laments Overpriced Antigen Kits
  • Beauty Queen and businesswoman Maggie Wilson was in the news recently after expressing frustration over the expensive cost of antigen kits in the country and calling out sellers who are taking advantage on the country’s Covid-19 surge.

    The 2007 Binibining Pilipinas title holder, in her Instagram Story, called on sellers who are selling the kits at double the price. “It’s disgraceful how the people who are selling them are taking advantage of the situation and upping the prices due to demand.”

    She then punctuates her sentence with the word, “Greed!”  She added that the prices for a box containing 20-25 kits are currently at Php10,000.


    Free antigen kits abroad

    Wilson was inquiring about buying a box of antigen test kits for a friend based in the U.K. to use on members of her family who were in the Philippines.

    The British-Filipino model in her post said that in the U.K. anyone can walk into a pharmacy and ask for a box of laterflow test kits for free.


    “Each kit even has a QR code where you can scan and register your results on the National Health Service website,” she explained. Laterflow is short for Rapid Lateral Flow, a test kit which allows a person to get a test even if he does not show symptoms of Covid-19. Such test provides quick results without the need to send them to a lab.

    “We have no price regulations in place,” Wilson laments. “It’s even more disgraceful that our government doesn’t offer them for free.”

    Gov’t explores different testing options

    According to a January 5 news release in the Philippine News Agency, the national government is currently discussing proposals for subsiding antigen self-tests kits approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make testing accessible and affordable to the public.

    In the same report, Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, emphasized the need to allow only FDA-approved antigen self-test kits. “This is something that is consistently being discussed, especially in light of this Omicron and again, we are looking at different options for us, for the national government, for the LGUs (local government units), and even for private individuals,” he said.

    Another testing options being considered by the government is the at-home Covid-19 test which has yet to be approved, the same report added. Such kits are already being used in countries like the US and Singapore. 

    Currently, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) remains the “gold standard” in detecting the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the report added.

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    Not alone

    Wilson is not alone in her call to have access to antigen kits for free. According to a report, other groups have in fact called on the national government to provide tests for free and conduct massive contact tracing at the same time as the country faces a surge in Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. 

    Atty. Reynold Munsayac of Act As One Philippines party-list said apart from alert level restrictions and enforcing minimum safety protocols, contact tracing in key to Covid-19 control and prevention.

    “There’s no reason not to immediately detect carriers if only the government could give free antigen testing to the public,” he said. DILG Undersecretary for Barangay Operations Martin Diño is also pushing for free antigen tests for all Filipinos. 

    The different presidential candidates have also heeded the same call for centralized contact tracing and free mass testing. The government, however, has reiterated that it is focused on doing targeted testing to ensure that “government resources are not depleted” and that procurement and purchase of vaccines are its priority. 

    As of January 11, the country has logged in a total of 28,007 new Covid-19 cases. 

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