Will Canada be ready for the next pandemic? Based on history, no
2020-08-03 from theglobeandmail.com
If – sorry, when – another novel coronavirus or mutated flu virus hits this country, Canadians had better hope it happens sooner rather than later. Based on recent history, our governments can only focus on preparing for a pandemic for about 10 years. Then they get bored.
The latest evidence of this is The Globe and Mail’s reporting on how the early-warning team inside the Canada Public Health Agency was effectively shuttered by the Trudeau government last year.
The Global Public Health Intelligence Network was formed in the 1990s by Canadian scientists who worried that other countries weren’t being forthcoming about local outbreaks. Using algorithms and old-fashioned detective work, the team scanned the globe, going through thousands of news and government reports, looking for signs of trouble.
After the 2003 SARS outbreak, which killed 44 people in Canada, the unit was moved into the federal Public Health Agency, which itself was created as a response to the SARS crisis. The GPHIN was given new powers, including the ability to issue alerts about potential outbreaks without having to ask non-scientist bureaucrats or politicians for approval.
The GPHIN went on to issue hundreds of alerts, and it won international praise for its work. But political interference began to creep in.
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