Dr. Tam

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has admitted the entire basis of its pandemic planning, that fewer than one in 10 Canadians would become infected, was wrong, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

“Yes, we only get the tip of the iceberg,” Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, told reporters.

“But we got quite a large tip of the iceberg compared to maybe some other countries. Right now I can’t tell you at the national level what that means.”

The PHA in a report said the known number of cases in Canada could total 3,562,450 by January 25. Additional research is required to “tell us maybe how much of the population did get infected in the end,” said Tam.

“What is the agency’s estimate of the true case count in Canada?” asked a reporter.

“The number of cases is likely to be much higher but it could be different in different provinces,” replied Tam.

“Why do you assume the case levels are that much higher?” asked a reporter.

“They are simply not able to test every case,” replied Tam. “You know that to be true. That’s a fact.”

Alberta Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw last Tuesday said infection rates in her province were as much as 10 times the official figure.

“We should assume at a minimum we’re seeing about 10 times or more the number of cases that we’re diagnosing,” said Hinshaw.

Unreported cases would include Canadians who self-test, but quarantine at home and never require hospitalization, or those who unknowingly become infected with the coronavirus without suffering obvious symptoms.

The PHA from the outbreak of COVID-19 on March 11, 2020 based its pandemic management on an assumption fewer than 10% of Canadians would become infected.

“Canada is aiming for strong epidemic control over the course of the pandemic with less than 10% of the population infected overall,” Tam said June 29, 2020.

“Transmission is largely under control.

“Models provide a prediction of what could happen under hypothetical scenarios allowing us to drive our public health actions towards a best possible outcome”

Epidemiologists ridiculed the 10% infection forecast at the time.

“There is no way this pandemic will magically stop at a 10% infection rate,” Professor Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa’s School of Epidemiology said in an earlier interview. 

“No way. I think they recognize how stupid that is and realize it is unscientific rubbish.”

Attaran in April 14, 2020 testimony at the Commons health committee predicted half of Canadians would become infected before COVID-19 ran its course.

“It’s going to be somewhere around half the population that has to be exposed, perhaps more,” said Attaran.

“Nearly all of us, probably 99% or something like that, have not met the virus and have not developed immunity to it. So if you open up, a very large percentage of us are going to get the virus, not just the 10% in the Public Health Agency’s estimation.”

News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief

Dave Naylor is News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief of the Western Standard based in the Calgary Headquarters. He served as City Editor of the Calgary Sun & covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years.

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