MANILA (UPDATE) - A member of the Department of Health's expert panel group on Wednesday criticized independent research group OCTA for allegedly releasing "media-hyped" and "poorly designed studies" on COVID-19 case analysis.
OCTA — a group of doctors, researchers, and professors from different universities which has been releasing its own daily bulletins — earlier urged the government to implement a "circuit-breaker lockdown" to arrest the spread of the Delta variant in the country.
"Poorly designed studies and media-hyped jumping to conclusions by amateur fortune tellers causes harm by making people panic and taking needless risks," said Dr. Edsel Salvaña, a member of the government's Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19.
"This is why we need real experts and not epistemic trespassers," he said in a Facebook post.
OCTA's projections and analyses on COVID-19 in the Philippines "sometimes scare people and cause panic," he said.
"There are many nuances to data analytics which non-epidemiologists and non-infectious diseases doctors do not appreciate and can lead to inaccurate conclusions," Salvaña said.
"They are not accountable to anyone when they do this," he said.
Last July 22, OCTA predicted that the Philippines may record some 8,000 new COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, but the country only logged 5,828 fresh cases on that day.
"Sometimes the [government panel's] recommendations dovetail with OCTA, and sometimes they do not. But we are accountable for our advice and consider many, many more aspects of the response," Salvaña said.
"I do wish there would be less noise so we can do our jobs properly and people do not get confused," he said.
OCTA said it "respects the government’s decision on the issue," but noted that the group's position "is supported by leaders in the business sector and in our local government units."
"OCTA believes in the power of citizens' collective action. We believe that what citizens do in the next few weeks will be decisive in preventing Delta from further spreading in the NCR [National Capital Region]," the group's statement read.
"We exhort our fellow citizens to continue to be vigilant."