We have obtained a document through a Freedom of Information request via Shelly Hipson of shellyhipson.ca that raises important questions about the Public Health Agency of Canada’s knowledge of COVID-19 breakthrough infections and more. Specifically, we wonder when the agency became aware of these cases, as the vaccine rollout had only just begun at the end of December 2020 and there was not enough data collected to identify such cases at that time. The agency’s announcement of breakthrough cases in a ‘Media lines’ email blast raised questions about what they knew and when they knew it.
The document obtained through a Freedom of Information request reveals that the email blast, which was sent to a wide range of recipients, including Dr. Robert Strang, was part of a national media lines distribution list to all provincial health departments in Canada. (Document is embedded in the post below)
It is notable that the individuals who received the email appeared to be following pre-approved answers, regardless of the situation. At the time, the media did not seem to ask many probing questions, and any queries that deviated from the authorized narrative were disregarded and left unanswered. I can personally vouch for this, as myself and others attempted to raise questions and voice concerns through various channels, but received no response or acknowledgment.
The ‘Media lines’ announcement came soon after the vaccine rollout, and at that time, the agency was promoting the vaccine as a way to return to normal. This messaging created a ‘follow the memo’ mentality, raising concerns about journalistic independence and the public’s access to accurate information. The source(s) of information behind the announcement, whether public or private, also raises further questions.
To better illustrate our concerns, let us provide additional context regarding the vaccine rollout and its history. In December 2020, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Nova Scotia began, with priority given to frontline healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff, and Indigenous communities. At that time, fear and uncertainty regarding the pandemic was widespread across most mainstream media outlets.
In Nova Scotia, Canada, the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered on December 16, 2020. At that time, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, emphasized that the vaccine was safe and effective and that it was a crucial tool in the fight against COVID-19. He encouraged all eligible individuals to receive the vaccine when it became available to them, stating that the vaccine would help to protect individuals, their families, and their communities from COVID-19.
Dr. Strang also emphasized that while the vaccine was an important tool, it would take time to vaccinate enough people to achieve herd immunity, and that public health measures such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing would still be necessary for some time. He urged Nova Scotians to continue to follow public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even after receiving the vaccine.
It’s worth noting that Dr. Strang did not mention the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine until February 17, 2021, during a press conference where he announced that Nova Scotia would be delaying the second dose to four months after the first dose, following guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout to the general public in Nova Scotia began on March 8, 2021, around six weeks after the ‘Media lines’ statement was issued. This raises a red flag, especially given the messaging that we were told to “trust the science,” while it seems that the approved answers were already prepared. It’s worth questioning whether the panel’s statements and recommendations were founded on scientific evidence or simply predictions made by individuals who claimed to have the ability to foresee the future. Were the panel members relying on data and empirical research, or were they acting more like psychics hired by Health Canada to predict the course of the pandemic? Additionally, it raises concerns about whether the panel was already aware that the vaccine would not work as advertised but continued to play along with the approved narrative.
In early 2021, Health Canada authorized the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. However, on March 29, 2021, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine be paused for people under the age of 55 due to concerns about the risk of rare blood clots. On April 14, 2021, Health Canada updated its authorization of the AstraZeneca vaccine to include a warning about the potential risk of rare blood clots.
Following the Health Canada announcement, the Nova Scotia government announced that it was pausing the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under the age of 55. However, the province continued to offer the vaccine to people aged 55 and over, as the risk of blood clots appeared to be lower in this age group.
On April 23, 2021, CBC News reported on the first documented “breakthrough” case of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. An individual tested positive for the virus even after receiving two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This is the first publicly disclosed report of such a case, indicating that the Public Health Agency of Canada was aware of it for over three months before informing the public. If the agency had prior knowledge of these breakthrough cases, why did it continue to promote the vaccine without providing full information? Not only that, the information they had was in direct conflict with the recommendations they were making at that time.
In June 2021, NACI updated its guidance to recommend that the AstraZeneca vaccine could be offered to people aged 30 and over if the benefits of vaccination outweighed the risks.
It’s almost as if the panel was relying on crystal balls and tarot cards instead of scientific evidence. In conclusion, the recent ‘Media lines’ statement shows that the Public Health Agency of Canada’s early knowledge of COVID-19 breakthrough cases raises important questions about the agency’s actions and transparency. The fact that the agency knew about such cases for over three months before the public was informed raises concerns about their handling of the vaccine rollout and the accuracy of their messaging. The media response to the announcement also raises concerns about journalistic independence and the public’s access to accurate information. Examining the history of the vaccine rollout in Nova Scotia helps to provide context for these concerns. As the Public Health Agency continues to investigate itself, it remains to be seen whether we will get the answers we seek.