On April 1st we wrote to Dr. Arruda to explain that a true proactive policy to prevent COVID-19 contamination starts by providing the means to test all health care personnel regularly.
On May 16, MUHC Management told us that new policies were being prepared to test all MUHC employees. This is good news that comes very late now as the pandemic began more than 2 months ago.
The lack of access to tests illustrates Quebec’s and Canada’s lack of preparedness to deal with the pandemic. After two months of crisis, the government is still struggling to keep its promise of 14,000 tests per day. This is clearly insufficient on the one hand, and on the other hand this situation stems from the fact that for 30 years our governments had left the field open for pharmaceutical companies to develop with our subsidies but without having these companies being obliged to put in place what we need as a society.
We wrote to Premier Legault on April 7 to remind him of this:
“… in 2016, the Ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation (MESI) will count 191 companies accounting for approximately 16,900 jobs in Quebec’s biopharmaceutical sector .“
For more than 30 years successive governments have over-subsidized these pharmaceutical companies. Yet no pharmaceutical company has stepped up to the front lines to offer its help, equipment nor personnel to radically increase the number of tests performed every day.
We know that people are contagious 48 hours BEFORE the tests can detect that they are contaminated. We also know that a significant number of people are asymptomatic for several days even if they are contagious, and in addition, there is the problem of false positives.
These 3 factors have always been used as arguments against a policy of systematic and regular testing of all health personnel.
However, it is undeniable that by testing all health care staff once a week, a large number of people working without symptoms could be detected, whom are now unfortunately contaminating patients and colleagues.
This is what we asked Dr Arruda on April 1. We suggested to the Prime Minister on April 7 to require that the pharmaceuticals companies provide the facilities, equipment and the necessary personnel to implement such a mass prevention policy.
Let us test all health personnel once a week to prevent and control the spread of the pandemic.
1] Le Québec est-il trop généreux envers l’industrie pharmaceutique ? MAÉ GEYMOND, in collaboration with GUILLAUME HÉBERT, IRIS February 2019