'Kalaban natin coronavirus': Doctor says House probe on OCTA a waste of time

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2021 11:06 AM

ABS-CBN News/File
ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - A public health expert on Thursday opposed calls of investigating the background and capabilities of OCTA Research, which has been providing updates on the country's COVID-19 situation.

Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser to the government's coronavirus task force, said an inquiry in the House of Representatives on the independent research group would be "a waste of time".

"Ang kalaban kasi natin dito ay hindi ang ating mga sarili. Ang kalaban natin dito 'yung coronavirus," he told Teleradyo.

(Our enemy here is not ourselves. Our enemy is the coronavirus.)

OCTA Research, a group of doctors, researchers and professors from different universities, is a "very credible organization," Leachon said. He has worked with them when they were called in before by Malacañang to provide analysis on the country's COVID-19 situation.

OCTA's coronavirus projections, which are based on data from the Department of Health, have so far been correct, he said.

The group was able to predict the surge in COVID-19 cases last year, in March and April this year and the rise in virus cases in July fueled by the virulent Delta variant, Leachon said.

He said lawmakers in the lower House should instead focus their inquiry on COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, among other issues hounding the country's response to the pandemic.

Leachon noted that the DOH had been "delayed" in their COVID-19 projections. He cited the delayed detection of the Delta variant, which in some cases were only confirmed after patients had been cleared from the virus.

"Kaya 'yung ibang grupo nagii-step up to the plate kasi kailangan i-alarm 'yung taongbayan para makapaghanda," he said.

(That's why some groups step up to the plate because they need to warn the public so they could prepare.)

Four lawmakers on Tuesday filed House Resolution No. 2075, urging the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to conduct a probe on OCTA Research in aid of legislation. 

The lawmakers want to ascertain the credentials and background of the research unit, focusing on their “qualifications, research methodologies, partnerships, and composition.”

OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye had said the group welcomed the lawmakers' call for probe, and said they would be "happy to present to Congress." 

"What we have been doing is provide analysis of DOH data to inform the public and government. I think our data and the results of our analysis speak for itself, as far as the surge [in] National Capital Region is concerned," he said.

"If it would mean clarity and it would inform our congressmen the intent of our public service initiative, it is okay."

In its website, OCTA describes itself as a “polling, research, and consultation firm” that provides “comprehensive, holistic, accurate, rigorous, and insightful data analysis to help our clients in government, the private sector and the NGO community."

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