House inquiry sought on OCTA Research group
SEVERAL House representatives filed a resolution on Tuesday calling for an inquiry on the qualifications, affiliations, and operations of the OCTA Research group after a member of the Health department’s technical advisory group said the researchers’ findings are “problematic.”
House Resolution 2075 asks the House Committee on Good Government to probe the “qualifications, research methodologies, partnerships, and composition” of the OCTA Research group.
More specifically, the resolution seeks to investigate the research group’s projections on the increase of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections, especially on the more contagious Delta variant, and its affiliation with the state-funded University of the Philippines (UP).
The research group, which has been releasing studies and statements on the COVID-19 pandemic trends since last year, said on July 28 that Metro Manila is “officially in a surge” with reproduction rate at 1.33 from 0.6 last month. It also urged the government to impose a “circuit-breaker” lockdown to curb the rise in cases.
“There is a public health and public policy need to ensure the safety and security of the population during this pandemic, and that information being distributed is correct and are not irresponsibly and erroneously published,” according to the resolution.
Edsel T. Salvana, director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health-University of the Philippines Manila said in an ANC interview on Monday that the OCTA projections, especially the reproduction rate from cases in the last two weeks, are based on “incomplete” and “erroneous” data.
OCTA Research said on Wednesday that it was going to release a “formal statement.”
Earlier in the day, OCTA Research fellow Ranjit S. Rye said in a DZBB interview that they respect the House resolution but noted that the country’s enemy at the moment is not the researchers but COVID-19.
He also said that OCTA Research is an “independent scientific group” providing monitoring reports as a form of public service, adding that their projections are based on data from the Department of Health. — Russell Louis C. Ku