Canada’s response to COVID-19 pandemic slowed by lack of data sharing, experts say

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Difficulties gathering federal data on the spread of COVID-19 has hampered Canada’s response to the pandemic, experts told Members of Parliament over several hours of scathing testimony Wednesday.

The criticism of Canada’s method of gathering crucial information about the number of cases came from several witnesses at the House of Commons health committee.

Canada has struggled to get real-time epidemiological information about how many people have the disease, who they are and what kinds of people are affected the most.

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The problem is not new, said University of Toronto epidemiologist David Fisman, who has for a long time found the lack of data-sharing among provinces in Canada astounding.

“I’ve called it a culture of ‘data hugging’ in Canada, and it does need to change. It harms us all,” he told the committee.

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His team has become accustomed to dealing with data other countries might consider garbage, and they have dubbed themselves “data raccoons.”

The problem is that data is gathered by local jurisdictions, where it’s then communicated to provincial health authorities which finally send it on to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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