MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 on Thursday disputed the country's last ranking in the latest Nikkei Asia COVID recovery index, and questioned the study's methodology.
The Philippines is last among 121 countries and territories in the study in terms of infection management, vaccination rate, and social mobility, according to Nikkei.
The new rating came a week after the Philippines also fell to the bottom of Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Nikkei evaluated the nations' COVID-19 response based on a 7-day average, instead of its state from when the pandemic began.
“Pinag-aaralan natin, dahil unang-una, they are comparing apples and oranges eh. ‘Yung mga bansa na in-assess nila, wala nang surge. Samantalang tayo, pababa pa lang,” Duque said.
(We are studying it because first, they are comparing apples and oranges. The countries they assessed no longer has a surge, while in our case, we were still starting to observe a decline.)
“Kung cumulative ‘yung ginawa nilang pagsusuri, we would have scored higher. Ibig sabihin, from the very start ‘til today. Ang ginawa nila, bumilang lang sila ng 7-day moving average,” he added.
(If they only assessed the whole picture or cumulatively, we would have scored higher. What they did instead is to assess the country's 7-day moving average.)
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire noted that the study was conducted during a 7-day period last month, when the Philippines reached the peak of its latest surge.
Duque said the country’s COVID-19 immunization rate is “not bad” as it is close to 30 percent of the target 70 percent of the entire population, considering the global vaccine supply issues experienced early this year.
He also pointed out that the vaccine deliveries to the Philippines have stabilized and that the government is now eyeing to ramp up inoculations.
“Thirty percent is not a bad number… Nag-antay tayo nang matagal para sa dating ng mga inangkat na bakuna. Ang daming delays eh… because of the acute global supply shortage. So ngayon lang nagdadatingan. We will ramp up. That’s for sure. We will be more aggressive,” Duque said.
(We waited for so long for the vaccines. There are so many delays because of the shortage. These vaccines are just arriving in bulk now.)
The health department will study Nikkei Asia’s assessment further, according to Duque.
“We will validate the findings and we will write them a letter if we see that there is something wrong with the methodology. Kasi baka may problema sa methodology,” the official said.
(Maybe there's a problem with the methodology.)
NTF Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. called the assessment “skewed”.
“‘Yung Nikkei at Bloomberg, they’re all business-oriented. Hindi nila binasehan ang (COVID-related) death… Ang ating death rate is only 1.5 to 1.7," said Galvez.
"Ang karamihan sa global natin is 2.3. Mali ‘yung kanilang ginagawang sistema ng analysis…. Kulang ang data nila… Skewed ang kanilang analysis,” he said.
(Their system of analysis is wrong... Their data is lacking... Their analysis is skewed.)
Galvez said the analysis should instead focus on the "totality, variables, and the spirit of the figures."
"You should look at the qualitative analysis of the facts...I-evaluate natin kung ano ang naging response during the peaks… Because of ating quarantine control," he said.
It is important to note, he said, that Philippine authorities were able to slow down infections amid the precence of the Delta variant.
"Because of that, we were able to produce more oxygen. Nag-produce tayo ng beds. We created a lot of systems para ma-cope up natin ‘yung Delta variant,” he said.
The Philippines has a total of 2,632,881 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 115,328 or 4.4 percent are active.
The country's death toll stood at 38,937.
So far, 22.6 million individuals have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 25.7 million have received their first dose as of Wednesday, according to government data.