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DOH disputes Ateneo study's claim of 2.8 million unreported COVID-19 cases

The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday disputed a study made by the Ateneo de Manila University that claimed around 2.8 million COVID-19 cases in the country have gone unreported, saying the research failed to consider differences in health systems among countries.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire was referring to a study titled “An Empirical Argument for Mass Testing: Crude Estimates of Unreported COVID19 Cases in the Philippines vis-à-vis Others in the ASEAN-5.”

Jan Fredrick Cruz, one of those involved in the study, said estimates were computed by multiplying the number of reported cases with the ratio obtained by dividing the COVID-19 case fatality rate of the Philippines against that of Singapore which has the lowest COVID-19 case fatality rate.

“May pagkakaiba na sa kakayanan ng health systems bago pa ang pandemic…sa atin po kasi, decentralized, kaya nagkakaiba ang kakayanan across the country. If you compare it by the numbers [of COVID-19 cases] na hindi natin isasama ang health system capacity ng isang bansa, hindi naman po appropriate iyon,” Vergeire said at a Palace briefing.

“Isa sa ginawa po nilang basehan ay iyong case fatality rate, and our economists and epidemiologists have said that such is not [a] correct [way to compare],” Vergeire added.

Vergeire, however, assured that the DOH will still study the findings and consider it in improving its COVID-19 response.

“Bukas po tayo sa mga ganyan, at puede naman po kaming makipag-usap sa kanya para magamit po natin,” Vergeire said.

For his part, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque urged the public to observe the minimum health protocols.

“I assume the person next to me has it kaya umiiwas po ako,” he said.

“Wala naman pong mawawala kung doble-ingat tayo. At remember, talagang ang ating sandata ngayon social distancing, face shield, paghuhugas ng kamay, face mask.”

The Philippines has recorded 173,774 COVID-19 cases thus far. Of this number, 113,481 have recovered while 2,795 have died. The active cases have reached 57,498.

The highest number of COVID-19 cases recorded in the last two weeks were recorded in the National Capital Region with 16,458. - with Virgil Lopez/MDM/BM, GMA News