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Randy Hillier asks Ontario Minister of Health about PCR test validity
Ontario Legislature – Hansard
Mr. Randy Hillier:
My question is to the Premier. Our COVID policies and the risk that they pose require an honest and forthright discussion. Dr. Yeadon, a former chief scientist with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, has stated that most if not all of the PCR tests result in false positives due to high Ct thresholds. Juliet Morrison, a virologist at the University of California, states that any test with a cycle threshold above 35 is too sensitive. The Public Health Agency of Canada reported in May of this year that testing over 25 cycles provides dubious results. The prestigious Oxford professor, Dr. Carl Heneghan, has stated that a PCR test does not equal COVID-19.
My question to the Premier: Is your testing creating both a false understanding of the risk, as well as false positives?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott):
Deputy Premier and Minister of Health-Hon. Christine Elliott:
The PCR testing is very effective in areas where there are outbreaks. It has proven to be so. We are receiving that information. We need that information in order to take action. We have taken action on several fronts in terms of limiting unmonitored social gatherings, limiting capacities in restaurants and bars, and in other actions that we’ve taken.
But I’m not quite sure what the member is suggesting. Are you suggesting we don’t do any testing? We just stop testing? Is that the reaction that we should be taking with this? What else would you suggest?
Mr. Randy Hillier: Back to the Premier: I’m glad that question was posed. On July 30, the Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, stated that our testing can result in over 50% false positives, that is, the person actually doesn’t have COVID-19, they have something else or they have nothing. She has also called for limits on testing of asymptomatic people, while the government calls for more—another contradiction in a long list of COVID contradictions.
We know high false positive rates are due to high Cts, and Canadian and world experts agree it should not be more than 25 cycles. Yet according to the Journal of Virology, Ontario labs are testing samples at 38 to 45 cycles. That’s what needs to be done.
Speaker, to the Premier: When did the Premier become aware of these faulty tests and practices, and why have you done nothing to fix them since at least July?
Hon. Christine Elliott: I would say to the member, there are zero inconsistencies coming from our public health experts. Dr. Yaffe has clarified what she indicated before. What she indicated before was that the—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.
Hon. Christine Elliott: —PCR testing is very effective in areas where we are having outbreaks, such as what we’re seeing in various parts of the province right now, in Peel, in Ottawa and in Toronto. We need that testing to make those decisions—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston will come to order.
Hon. Christine Elliott: We are taking action where we need to take action. We’re looking at other methods of testing as well. Some of the antigen testing is looking very promising; it looks as if Health Canada is going to be approving that. It’s a good screening tool, but we need every tool that we can use at our discretion: PCR testing, antigen testing, we’re looking at saliva testing. We need everything that we can do for screening and for testing purposes to keep the people of Ontario safe and healthy.
From earlier in this Question Period on the Covid-19 response
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My first question this morning is for the Premier. For weeks the Premier has been saying that all the decisions that he is making have been made on the advice of experts that sit around his COVID-19 command table. My question is, will the Premier actually tell us today exactly who those experts are?
Hon. Christine Elliott: We have been very clear about who is involved in the table from the very beginning. Of course it’s Dr. Williams, our Chief Medical Officer of Health; we also have Dr. Huyer, who is helping with outbreak management; Dr. Yaffe, who has also appeared and spoken in many contexts; as well as many other physicians.