Are we winning the battle vs COVID-19? Data from experts dispute Roque’s ‘we won’ claim

June 30, 2020 - 6:01 PM
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Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing at the Malacañang Palace in March 12, 2018. (Presidential photo/Toto Lozano)

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque might have remarked that the country “won” against the predicted number of COVID-19 cases from the University of the Philippines but data indicate that the number of infected persons continues to rise.

In a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, Roque threw his fist in the air and exclaimed that the country has “beat the UP prediction.”

“Wala pong katotohanan ‘yung 10,000 (backlogs), 1,000 plus na lang po ang ating backlog which means we did not hit 40,000 or we will not hit 40,000 by end of June,” he said.

“Today is the last day na pala. Ano bang sinasabi ko. Wala na po, panalo na tayo! We beat the UP prediction po. We beat it so congratulations, Philippines! Let’s do it again in July. So we are winning,” Roque added.

As of June 30, the country has logged a total number of 37,513 COVID-19 cases. 26,015 individuals are currently infected with the virus.

Data from the Department of Health‘s COVID-19 tracker states there are 46,335 individuals who have tested positive for COVID as of June 29, although it has yet to be validated before being included in the confirmed count.

A research group from the state university previously predicted that the country might reach 40,000 cases by the end of June, based on the virus’ reproduction number.

Roque vs data 

Meanwhile, Roque’s remarks did not sit well with some Filipinos who reminded him that the state university is not the enemy but the virus itself.

“With all due respect Mr. Harry Roque but UP isn’t the enemy here nor the people. The enemy is the f*cking virus. I know you’re intelligent enough to know what PREDICTION means,” a Twitter user said.

Actor-television host Luis Manzano sarcastically responded to Roque as well.

The UP Office of the Student Regent said that mass testing must be “fully implemented in the country” first.

“Data backlogs are also still possible or expected. No excuse to be complacent,” it said on its Twitter account, responding to Roque’s remarks.

Science organization Earth Shaker Philippines shared the number of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and noted that there are still thousands of backlogs to be considered.

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ABS-CBN’s data analyst Edson Guido noted that the number of unique COVID-19 cases, given the country’s testing, is “somewhere between 36,000 to 46,000.”

“Possibly 40,000,” he added.

Guido also shared that there were “3,368 testing backlogs” as of June 28, based on DOH’s data.

He added that while there are more COVID-19 tests being conducted, the daily positivity rate is also increasing as well.

Peter Cayton, an associate professor of statistics at UP Diliman who specializes in forecasting analytics, also shared his insights in response to the COVID-19 case count on June 30.

“The end is far from sight,” he tweeted, along with his statistical analysis.

 

Researchers from UP and the University of Santo Tomas estimated that COVID-19 cases in the country could soar to 60,000 by the end of July due to the “significant” community transmission.

“Based on the current number of cases in the Philippines (including uncategorized cases) and assuming the trends continue, this projects to more than 60,000 COVID-19 cases by July 31, with 1,300 deaths,” experts from OCTA Research said.

The projection was based on the lower end of the estimated 60,000 to 70,000 cases.

“We emphasize that the projected increase in cases and deaths can be prevented by rapidly identifying and breaking chains of viral transmission,” the researchers added.