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Editorial: COVID analysis — Do not mess with unbiased science

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Based on The COVID-19 Science Advisory Desk, it is being ‘dissolved’ by Public Well being Ontario, the provincial Crown company beneath whose umbrella it has nested the previous few months. That is unhealthy information.

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Nowadays, confusion about COVID-19 is comprehensible. Beginning weeks earlier than Ontario’s election marketing campaign, the province’s chief medical officer of well being all however disappeared from public view. Ottawa’s medical officer of well being has additionally ended her once-frequent press briefings. Native COVID statistics, at one time out there day by day, are presently up to date solely twice every week. Into this vacuum, pandemic skeptics fortunately proceed to spew nonsense.

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Now comes information that one in every of Ontario’s chief bastions of unbiased evaluation and knowledge on the pandemic — The COVID-19 Science Advisory Desk – is being, uh, reformulated. Or disbanded altogether. What’s occurring is complicated — however neither situation is nice.

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Based on a letter from the science desk (not attributed to any particular member), it’s being “dissolved” by Public Well being Ontario, the provincial Crown company beneath whose umbrella it has nested the previous few months. This comes simply because the flu season is about to hit and a fall COVID uptick is anticipated.

It’s been onerous to get dependable data, unbiased of political agendas, about COVID-19 over the previous two years. However rigorous analysis was what the science desk, which introduced collectively dozens of specialists from throughout Ontario, supplied. Beginning in the summertime of 2020, these extremely certified volunteers shortly turned recognized for his or her well timed COVID-19 modelling, and for offering a wealthy array of strong statistics that influenced coverage.

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The group firmly believed in transparency. Its public face was typically blunt-spoken Dr. Peter Juni, who generally disagreed brazenly with the Doug Ford authorities. Juni left in April for a job at Oxford College.

Public Well being Ontario, headed by Michael Sherar, says it’s speaking with members of the science desk about creating a brand new advisory group, with new phrases of reference. In an unattributed assertion to journalists Friday, PHO stated, “Membership will proceed to be comprised of unbiased specialists.”

Actually? What Public Well being Ontario intends to create “has no semblance to the earlier Ontario science desk both in its construction or its perform,” says Dr. Gerald Evans, a Queen’s College infectious illness knowledgeable and member of the advisory desk. The brand new advisory group will take path from and report back to PHO. “For those who examine it to the science desk, it’s the precise antithesis,” Evans instructed Citizen reporter Elizabeth Payne.

That is no method to deal with science — not in order for you folks to be assured of the independence of the analysis. Scientific autonomy is essential to serving to Ontarians by means of the COVID confusion and skepticism they these days face.

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