Health officials can't explain Dr. Tam's 'rocket ship' modelling | Toronto Sun

Author of the article:

Anthony Furey

Publishing date:

Feb 20, 2021

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Last Updated 5 hours ago

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2 minute read

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam. Photo by Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press

Canadian government health officials were at a loss to explain why new federal modelling shows such a wild trajectory when they appeared at a House of Commons health committee hearing Friday.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Theresa Tam presented new modelling forecasting COVID-19 cases. The slide deck presents charts about how cases and deaths across Canada are significantly declining.

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However, when it comes to forecasting for the future, Tam presented a graph that showed cases of COVID-19 immediately shooting up like a rocket ship in an almost vertical line.

It shows Canada going from its current count of around 2,300 cases per day to over 20,000 daily cases by the second week of March. The exact figure is unclear because the line shoots so high it exits the top of the graph.

The graph left infectious diseases experts scratching their heads. “What are the underlying assumptions?” Dr. Martha Fulford, an assistant professor at McMaster University and infectious diseases physician at Hamilton Health Sciences, told the Sun.

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“For me, a model is only as good as the data inputted and we need to know what the underlying assumptions and the data are. Why is their modelling so different from the modelling everywhere else?”

The Center for Disease Control in the U.S., for example, forecasts a decrease in cases over the same timeline as Dr. Tam’s graph shows the rocket ship-like trajectory.

Michelle Rempel, the Conservative shadow minister for health, asked Public Health Agency of Canada representatives to explain how they came to this forecasting, but they were unable to offer answers.

“We will return to you with the number of inputs that went into those models,” said Dr. Guillaume Poliquin, the acting scientific director general of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory.

Rempel said later in the committee hearing that it was problematic for PHAC officials to call for more lockdowns and the continued closure of businesses without being able to defend their work and answer questions about how they got their numbers.

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Conservative MP John Barlow in turn told PHAC officials that he felt it was “irresponsible” for them to release modelling without informing politicians, media and the public about what went into it.

“The models that are presented represent an ongoing refinement of our understanding of COVID,” Poliquin said.

The Sun asked similar questions to PHAC’s media relations team and has yet to hear back.

https://torontosun.com/news/health-officials-cant-explain-dr-tams-rocket-ship-modelling/wcm/826deb54-8f2c-48ef-bda9-1dfb8f2a589b/amp/?__twitter_impression=true