Inaccurate data? OCTA Research says all 3 COVID-19 surge predictions happened
MANILA, Philippines — A fellow from OCTA Research has downplayed concerns that they may have been presenting inaccurate data on COVID-19 infection growth, stressing that all their predictions of a case surge happened.
OCTA Research fellow and University of the Philippines (UP) Professor Guido David said on Monday that they predicted several surges in COVID-19 cases — one last March for Metro Manila, caused by the Alpha variant; a downward trend in Cebu; and the recent Delta variant-spurred surge — and all of them occurred.
“When you say mali (it is wrong), there’s a range of errors, is it 100 percent incorrect? Five percent incorrect?” David asked. “The level of error we’re seeing is only 5 percent, and our models have 100 percent surge detection accuracy.”
“The important matter is our models predicted a surge, and it happened. We also project improving trend, we were also projecting that Cebu City will have a downward trend,” he added.
During the House of Representatives committee on good government and public accountability, OCTA Research was asked by Deputy Speaker and BH party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy to comment on infectious disease expert Edsel Salvana’s remarks saying that the firm’s COVID-19 predictions may be inaccurate.
Salvana, who is a member of the Department of Health – Technical Advisory Group (DOH-TAG), also issued similar statements in early August, which led House members including Herrera-Dy to file a resolution seeking a probe on the analytics group’s background and capabilities.
But David noted that the COVID-19 data they are using comes from DOH itself — the DOH data drop in particular — and any errors on their prediction, if any, would be blamed on the department.
“So it goes both ways, but we’re just using a model […] So I don’t agree that the data is erroneous, because we get our data from the Department of Health,” he explained.
But Salvana said that it is not an issue of the data being accurate, but using data that is not yet updated because COVID-19 tallies for a particular day can be updated eventually after days — whether it is an increase in cases or removal of duplicate entries.
Five lawmakers including Herrera-Dy have asked the House last August to do an inquiry in aid of legislation on OCTA Research’s qualification, after observing that the government has been reliant on the analytics firm in crafting studies and policies concerning the infection growth.
The resolution was hinged on the warnings made by Salvana, who noted before the latest Metro Manila-wide lockdowns due to the COVID-19 Delta variant that OCTA Research’s projections on infection growth are “problematic”.
Salvana said in August that OCTA Research is making projections based on data that is subject to errors, because current data is incomplete due to backlogs.
However, a Delta variant-led surge really happened, forcing Metro Manila and other provinces to go under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status for two weeks. The current uptick in cases also saw the country breaking daily new infection records that happened during Alpha variant-led surge last March 2021.
OCTA Research has been used by various media outfits in covering the COVID-19 pandemic in the country — including their call early August for a circuit breaker lockdown due to the then-looming threat of the dreaded Delta variant.
The same firm said that the Delta variant may already be spreading undetected in Metro Manila even before the Department of Health and other health experts admitted that Delta is already the dominant variant in the country.
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