Breaking news from Peace River UCP AGM: provincial COVID testing questioned

Susan Thompson

South Peace News

Comments allegedly made by Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro during the Peace River UCP constituency association’s annual general meeting this weekend are raising questions about which experts the UCP government is listening to while planning their strategy to address rapidly rising cases of COVID-19.

Shandro appeared as the keynote speaker at the AGM on Nov. 21 via Zoom.

Alberta Health Minister, Tyler Shandro
photo credit: albertahealthservices.ca

Bob Blayone, an ex-UCP constituency association board member, says in a Facebook post that he attended the AGM and asked Shandro, “Recently Edmonton’s Dr. Roger Hodkinson spoke to Edmonton city council regarding the COVID public health orders of the day. Dr. Hodkinson’s expertise is of the highest order.

“To quote Dr. Hodkinson on COVID testing: ‘I’m in the business of testing for COVID. I do want to emphasize, that positive test results, DO NOT, underlined in neon, mean a clinical infection. It’s simply driving public hysteria and all testing should STOP unless you are presenting to hospital with some respiratory problem.’”

“Regarding PCR testing, Alberta is using testing of 35 cycles, experts state that is far too high, whereas 18 to 24 cycles is considered more reasonable, and anything above 30 cycles is too sensitive, and causes many false positives.”

“Given this hypersensitive PCR testing method, and the impact it is having on health care, that it is causing a shortage of staff due to staff having to isolate, why not utilize the PCR testing cycles recommended by the experts?”

“Lastly, I ask if yourself and Dr. Hinshaw would consider calling upon Dr. Hodkinson to present his expert advice on COVID-19 testing, and on the public health orders of the day?”

Bob Blayone
photocredit: lakesideleader.com

Blayone says Shandro acknowledges Dr. Hodkinson’s expertise and informed attendees, “That Dr. Hodkinson has advised AHS in the past helping to develop Alberta Health protocols. That he values his expertise, and knows him well. That AHS manufactures their own PCR test. And finally, Tyler inferred that he will speak to Dr. Hodkinson regarding AHS’ PCR testing.”

In a since deleted post to Facebook that has already been broadly shared on Twitter, Cheryl Kerr Fitchie says she has a new appreciation for Shandro since hearing him speak at the meeting.

“He spoke very candidly about how he has NOT been willing to take advice from the Feds or Health Canada or the World Health Organization on COVID protocol for Alberta. He said he has been referred to Dr. Hodkinson many times and has the utmost respect for his expertise in this field.”

Dr. Hodkinson’s comments at a virtual Edmonton city council meeting on Nov. 13 regarding the City’s proposal to mandate masks until May 2021 have been seized upon by anti-maskers and conservative pundits for apparently confirming their own opposition to basic public health measures and potential lockdowns.

“The bottom line is simply this, there is utterly unfounded public hysteria driven by the media and politicians. It is outrageous. This is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public,” Dr. Hodkinson says.

The bottom line is simply this, there is utterly unfounded public hysteria driven by the media and politicians. It is outrageous. This is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public,”

Dr. Roger Hodkinson

“There is absolutely nothing that can be done to contain this virus, other than protecting more vulnerable people. It should be thought of nothing more than a bad flu season. This is not Ebola. It is not SARS. It is politics playing medicine, and that is a very dangerous game.”

The COVID-19 is in fact a severe acute respiratory syndrome virus, known as SARS-Cov-2, and Dr. Hinshaw has repeatedly emphasized it is not the flu. Unlike the flu, there is still no vaccine for the novel coronavirus, although multiple companies have shown promising results in vaccine trials.

“It is just another bad flu. And you have got to get your minds around that. Let people make their own decisions. You should be totally out of the business of medicine. You are being led down the garden path by the chief medical officer of Health of this province,” Dr. Hodkinson says.

Dr. Hodkinson also claims masks and social distancing don’t work, and that people are “walking around like lemmings obeying without any knowledge base to put the mask on their face.”

Dr. Roger Hodkinson
photo credit: westernmedical.ca

In response to Dr. Hodkinson’s comments, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada issued a clarification on Nov. 20.

It reads, “On November 19, 2020 the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Royal College was made aware of statements by a Royal College Fellow, Dr. Roger Hodkinson. In some online references, Dr. Hodkinson is being incorrectly identified as a chair/past chair of the Royal College.”

“We would like to clarify that Dr. Hodkinson is not nor has ever held the position of chairman of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.”

“We would like to clarify that Dr. Hodkinson is not nor has ever held the position of chairman of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.”

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Royal College

The statement says the Royal College “believes COVID-19 presents a serious health threat to the health of all Canadians.”

“The Royal College strongly supports all public health advice given by the chief public health officer of Canada, including recommendations to practice physical distancing and to wear masks to help prevent COVID-19 transmission.”

Attendees at the AGM say Shandro also addressed whether or not the province would go into another lockdown as cases of the novel coronavirus rapidly spike and ICU capacity continues to fill up.

Fitchie says that at the AGM either Shandro or MLA Dan Williams said that “Dr. Hinshaw has said a total lockdown is not on the horizon AT ALL.”

Shandro has not been present at recent briefings with Dr. Hinshaw.

Peace River MLA Dan Williams also appeared at the AGM via Zoom. Williams announced on Nov. 13 that he would be isolating due to potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus after Premier Jason Kenney announced his own isolation on Nov. 12 due to being in close contact with a positive case on Monday, Nov. 9. Kenney’s press secretary has confirmed he was not exposed at the Legislature, meaning it’s most likely the premier was exposed during his tour through the Peace region with Williams that day.

Tim Driedger was elected new Peace River UCP board president at the AGM.

The NDP opposition has called for an emergency debate as Alberta set a new record for coronavirus cases for the fourth straight day on Nov. 22.

To date, 471 Albertans have died of the virus. More than 110 Albertans have died in November alone.

In the absence of a provincial mandate, the Town of Peace River recently passed its own mask bylaw, despite continuing controversy.

High Prairie did the same earlier.

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