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How OCTA predicts COVID-19 case surge in the country

By Jennylou Canon

PHOTO: News Patrol PH

OCTA Research is known to be responsible for forecasting possible COVID-19 trends and scenarios, making it useful in considering quarantine classifications during a certain period.

But have you ever wondered, how does OCTA predict the numbers? Does it have a mathematical and scientific basis to it? Or is it just something that appears in their dreams?



OCTA is an independent research group formed during the pandemic by several faculty members and alumni from University of the Philippines (UP), University of Santo Tomas (UST), and Providence College in the United States (US). 

According to OCTA fellow Prof. Ranjit Singh Rye, the group was formed after he and UP’s Institute of Mathematics Dr. Guido David decided to start research and monitoring on COVID-19 trends in the country.

“We started to monitor the pandemic using a methodology to do models and projections,” Rye said.



On how OCTA was able to predict the trends, they used a model reliant on the reproduction number and positivity rate of COVID-19.

The reproduction number is the quantity of people an infected patient can infect the virus to. Meanwhile, the positivity rate is the number of tests that turns out to be positive in a given testing.

Fascinating as it seems, this model has worked on forecasting every COVID-19 case surge in the country, according to OCTA fellow and biologist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco of UST.

But how does OCTA’s forecasts on COVID-19 surge seem to work? Well, it’s all on the primary indicator which is the reproduction number. 

“Why is it the primary indicator? Basically, it measures the rate of infection. It measures the speed or the strength of the pandemic. That’s why this number is very important. It’s like a temperature. If it’s high, it means that things are getting bad. If it’s low, things are improving,” David explained.

OCTA also uses three data from the Department of Health (DOH): the report date; the specimen date; and the onset date.



And that’s it! Using the DOH data and calculating never-ending numbers, OCTA was able to predict COVID-19 surges in the country, and recommended which steps can be taken in order to contain or prevent the case spike.

The next time you encounter another OCTA prediction, you’ll know how the forecast works.


Report sources: Manila Bulletin, InterAksyon