Colby says misinformation being spread

Retirement will have to wait a little longer for Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health.

Dr. David Colby will continue as the acting Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent into 2023.

Colby had planned to retire as of Dec. 31. However, the Chatham-Kent Board of Health passed a motion to appoint Colby, the previous Medical Officer of health, to the acting role beginning Jan. 1.

After Colby announced his retirement at the end of March this year, Dr. Mario Kangeswaren was announced as the new Medical Officer of Health in July. He later stepped down from the role in October.

The acting MOH has already been hard at work.

Most recently, Dr. David Colby, speaking at a recent Chatham-Kent board of health meeting, said several false allegations were made at the meeting that needed to be addressed.

One of the allegations was that COVID-19 vaccines had not been tested properly. Colby said Health Canada’s “rigorous procedures” for testing drugs are recognized around the world for their high standards.

“We don’t have the freedom to mislead, in my opinion, and we don’t have the freedom to infect others.

He clarified all actions in public health boil down to keeping everybody as safe and protected as they possibly can.

“It’s very, very difficult when people come up with factoids about alleged and theoretical dangers of vaccines based on a misunderstanding of molecular genetics, particularly if they happen to hold some type of professional designation,” he said.

Colby added approval decisions are based on scientific and medical evidence that vaccines are safe, effective and of good quality. He said, most importantly, the benefits must also outweigh any risks that are present.

He said COVID-19 vaccines got to market quickly for several reasons.

“The COVID vaccines had four to five times the usual numbers of subject studies that any other vaccines would get,” Colby said. “To cast doubt on the approval process of our entire country just because vaccines appeared relatively quickly, that’s just not keeping up with modern technology.”

Colby also spoke to the allegation that people who are vaccinated are put at a higher risk of dying.

Colby cited a report from the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet, which found 20 million deaths were prevented by vaccination in the first year COVID-19 vaccines were available.

He noted that the study excluded one of the largest countries, China, so the number is probably “far greater” than 20 million people.

Colby said there were also statements that vaccines are not effective because of the need for booster shots or revaccinations. He said the immune response to coronaviruses, including COVID-19, is short-lived.

“Even in a very healthy person with a robust immune response, the immunity starts to wane around four months after infection or after vaccination,” Colby said. “Until this pandemic is completely done, and it isn’t, we’re going to see revaccination every five or six months continue to be recommended.”

The MOH added that people who are trying to argue that vaccination is a bad idea sometimes lean on questionable facts. He said at some levels, people are making up facts.

“The planting of deliberate misinformation to either mislead people or to increase the number of mouse clicks and to make money is a real problem in today’s society,” he said.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News