Sask. no longer shares COVID-19 modelling data with its doctors

·2 min read
COVID-19 testing at Evraze Place in Regina, Sask., on Sept. 9, 2021.  (Matthew Howard/CBC - image credit)
COVID-19 testing at Evraze Place in Regina, Sask., on Sept. 9, 2021. (Matthew Howard/CBC - image credit)

Something Saskatchewan's doctors suspected has now been confirmed: the province is withholding COVID-19 modelling data from them.

In the early stages of the pandemic, modelling data was provided to doctors.

Although modelling is not a crystal ball that shows the future, it does give health professionals and policymakers information that can help them inform decisions.

That transparency stopped several months ago that transparency stopped. It was never made clear why.

Doctors were finally given an answer by Dr. Susan Shaw, an ICU doctor and a chief medical officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), during a virtual physician town hall on Thursday.

Shaw was asked about the subject by Dr. Carla Holinaty, a family doctor in Saskatoon.

Shaw confirmed that although modelling is still being produced by the province, the Ministry of Health has decided that it should no longer be widely shared with doctors in the province.

"I think it confirms what we had all been suspicious of, but it was no less disheartening to hear," Holinaty told CBC News on Friday.

COVID-19 in Saskatchewan by the numbers

Only senior officials at the SHA receive the data. It's then used for planning purposes.

Earlier this week, Premier Scott Moe said that the province's medical community should provide guidance and use their expertise to get more people vaccinated.

WATCH | Sask. COVID cases continue to rise

Holinaty says there is a disconnect between what Moe is urging and the desire to restrict and withhold the COVID-19 modelling data.

If family physicians and other doctors had the data, it could be another tool to sway people who may be vaccine resistant or vaccine hesitant, she said.

"Without it, we just are speculating and we don't have any data to refer to, or numbers, or projections," Holinaty said. "Being able to quantify that for people in terms of what that might mean for numbers of hospitalizations, numbers of people in the intensive care unit, I think it is much more more powerful and much more concrete for people."

The Ministry of Health did not respond to a request for comment.

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