Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair responds to backlash over Sun column about COVID-19, says her only aim was to ‘promote discourse’
The Ontario government says the Sun’s story about a vaccine for COVID-19 may cause “panic in some people and distress in others”, that it may “exacerbate fears and anxiety” and that it was “not the position of the Liberal government to endorse any particular course of action”.
The Toronto Star’s story this week about a vaccine developed by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) says that scientists there have been working on a vaccine for the coronavirus since 2016, and that it has reached “proof of concept” for testing in humans.
The story also says that the UBC researchers “suspect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, is the same one that caused the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people in 2002”.
On Friday, the Star published an editorial by TFP’s vice-chair, who is identified as Jennifer Stoddart-Gagnon by Star reporter Kate Matushansky, that harshly condemned the column as “misleading and sensationalist”, and suggested it was meant to “promote conversation that should be happening in the privacy of one’s own home”.
“To claim that the government has put itself forward as an advocate for the use of a vaccine for COVID-19 is not only misleading, it is profoundly irresponsible,” she said in an earlier statement.
An investigation by the Star found that while the government has taken steps to try to ensure widespread testing, it has not made an effort to ensure that people know they have the vaccine in their home.
The public health officials who spoke to the Star said that Ontario plans to put out information on the vaccine to try to dispel all fears about using it.
“All Ontarians should feel comfortable that we are taking every precaution as part of the province’s COVID-19 response and plan for all eventualities,” said Bonnie Henry, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.