Anticipated Next Month: Alberta’s COVID-19 Review Led by Vaccine Policy-Challenging Doctors

A task force in Alberta, led by physician Gary Davidson, is set to deliver a report next month on the integrity of the province’s COVID-19 data and decision-making. The task force was created by Premier Danielle Smith and is tasked with reviewing years of health data and assessing the quality of information used to inform pandemic decisions. Dr. Davidson has previously claimed that the government manipulated statistics to impose restrictions during the pandemic, a statement that was rebuked by Alberta Health Services at the time. Other members of the task force have expressed views contrary to mainstream medical consensus on vaccines and public health restrictions.

The government allocated $2 million for the review, which is separate from another $2 million COVID-19 review panel chaired by former Reform Party leader Preston Manning. Ms. Smith, who became leader of the United Conservative Party in part due to her opposition to public health restrictions, vaccines, and Alberta Health Services, ordered the data review to better manage future pandemics.

The task force aims to compare Alberta’s pandemic experience with other jurisdictions and was designed to include around 10 health professionals. However, currently only three members are actively serving on the task force. Dr. Davidson, anesthetist Blaine Achen, and epidemiologist David Vickers are working alongside each other, while four others have stepped away from the task force. Two doctors with conventional views regarding the pandemic, a primary-care physician, and a medical officer of health with Indigenous Services Canada, left the task force. Pediatric neurologist Eric Payne and immunologist Jessica Rose, who have both challenged AHS over its vaccine policy in separate legal cases, have also resigned.

The task force’s final report was initially expected in December 2022 but has been delayed and is now expected in May 2023. The government has provided a list of medical professionals for the task force but claims no involvement in its work or approach. The Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) is overseeing the task force, with the $2 million budget flowing through the council as an administrative function. Task force members are receiving a government standard honorarium and are required to sign non-disclosure agreements and declare any conflicts of interest.

Overall, the task force’s report will shed light on the integrity of Alberta’s COVID-19 data and decision-making, examining whether the government manipulated statistics and assessing the quality of information used to inform pandemic decisions. The composition of the task force, including members with views contrary to mainstream medical consensus, raises questions about its objectivity. The report’s findings will likely have implications for public health policies and government responses to future health emergencies in Alberta.

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By Kate Stephenson
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