Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair responds to backlash over Sun column about COVID-19, says her only aim was to ‘promote discourse’
Ontario’s director of public health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, is no stranger to controversy, but she has received her largest share of condemnation in the week since she used language about the “viciousness” of the novel coronavirus to describe public health practices.
Yaffe had a column published in the Ottawa Citizen that was flagged by Ottawa’s medical journal, the Canadian Journal of Medicine. In it, she made the case for more community testing for COVID-19.
But the language she used was more severe and provocative than most other scientists are prepared to go.
She said that people don’t respond to the first bit of “evidence-based medicine,” when it comes to COVID-19, and then get “biped off” when she goes into more detail about the virus.
“The general public is very good at ignoring the evidence and when evidence-based medicine doesn’t suit their agendas, they jump ship and move to quackery,” Yaffe wrote.
“This is not new; in the past, evidence-based medicine is used to support alternative medicines, prayer and alternative medicine.”
Yaffe said that evidence-based medicine is the method that physicians use when patients have complex medical problems.
However, if she had been given a list of conditions that are often managed by doctors and a list of evidence-based treatments, she said the public would not trust doctors as much.
She further said that the public doesn’t trust medical institutions, either.
“When I see the headlines, the comments on Twitter, the articles about physicians, they are all about what they are going to do when they see a patient with a particular condition. If you had a list of conditions and