August 23, 2021
A member of Ontario’s COVID-19 science and modelling table has stepped down after he took to Twitter and accused the group of withholding modelling data that, according to him, projects a “grim fall.”
Dr. David Fisman, an infectious disease epidemiologist and physician, issued a letter to the science table, which advises the Ontario government, announcing his resignation on Monday, two days after coming under fire for his tweets.
“The Ontario science table has important modeling work that projects a grim fall,” Fisman wrote on Twitter early Saturday. “I don’t understand why they’re not releasing that. It’s important for people to understand what lies ahead, and what the stakes are.”
“If @COVIDSciOntario is arm’s length from the government it should release its modeling. If it’s not arm’s length from the government we should have that conversation,” he wrote in another Tweet several hours later.
If @COVIDSciOntario is arm’s length from the government it should release its modeling.
If it’s not arm’s length from the government we should have that conversation. https://t.co/eRHEnYu8iz
— David Fisman (@DFisman) August 21, 2021
Many took to Twitter and responded to Fisman’s tweets. Some called the allegation “unfair” and others said they were angry that modelling data for the fall has not yet been released.
The Ontario COVID-19 science and modelling table responded to what it called “rumours” and said, “to be absolutely clear, that is not true.”
The table said many models are being conducted by many teams that are reviewing the data.
“Anything less is not rigorous science, and risks either underestimating or overestimating the real dangers we may face,” the science table tweeted. “A lot of mathematical and scientific work goes into generating a modelling consensus that Ontarians can count on; we move quickly, but not prematurely.
“We’re currently *beginning* to generate individual models for that review. To be clear, no single model — no matter how rigorous it is — reflects the *consensus* view that we believe should inform Ontario’s response.”
There appear to be some rumours that the Science Advisory Table is withholding a consensus model of COVID-19 in the Fall. To be absolutely clear, that is not true. Pls read thread 1/4
— COVIDScienceOntario (@COVIDSciOntario) August 22, 2021
On Monday morning, Fisman said he decided to resign from the group, saying in his letter that he felt “increasingly uncomfortable with the degree to which political considerations appear to be driving outputs from the table, or at least the degree to which these outputs are shared in a transparent manner with the public.”
“I do not wish to remain in this uncomfortable position, where I must choose between placid relations with colleagues on the one hand, and the necessity of speaking truth during a public health crisis on the other,” Fisman continued.
Dr. Peter Juni, the scientific director for Ontario’s COVID-19 science table, commented on the process of the data projections and maintains that the table is “completely independent of the government.”
“We just need to get it right and there is a process in place,” Juni told Global News Radio 900 CHML, noting that all of the members do this on a voluntary basis and have been working on the models for 18 months.