Ontario doctor leaves Science Table after alleging it's withholding data predicting a "grim fall"

Aug 23 2021, 9:18 am

Dr. David Fisman has resigned from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Table after alleging the organization is withholding data that illustrates the dire virus situation in the province.

The University of Toronto epidemiology professor handed in his resignation letter on August 20, where he said the decision came with mixed emotions. But ultimately, he believes the table is bowing to political pressure from the government rather than issuing guidance that best protects the health of Ontarians.

“In a system such as ours, it was always going to be a challenge to balance the best scientific guidance with what is politically possible,” he wrote. “Recently, I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with the degree to which political considerations appear to be driving outputs from the tables.”

He praised the table’s members for balancing those conflicting priorities for so long and congratulated it for effectively applying an equitable lens for policies on vaccine distribution. But in the end, it was too difficult to be a publicly dissenting voice from the organization’s guidance.

On August 21, Fisman alleged that the Science Table was withholding modelling data that predicts a “grim fall.”

“I don’t understand why they’re not releasing that. It’s important for people to understand what lies ahead and what the stakes are,” he tweeted.

The organization issued a series of tweets Sunday saying it’s still working to integrate many models from different teams before coming to a consensus.

“We’re currently beginning to generate individual models for that review. To be clear, no single model — no matter how rigorous it is — reflects the consensus view that we believe should inform Ontario’s response,” it wrote.

Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case counts have been increasing this month and surpassed 700 new cases in 24 hours on Sunday for the first time since June.

Most new cases are in unvaccinated individuals though, and officials have paused reopening but not instituted any new restrictions.

 

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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