Canada Sought Help From US on Paxlovid Use, Vaccination Messaging

By Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal. Twitter: @NChartierET Gettr: @nchartieret
January 24, 2023Updated: January 24, 2023

Communication on COVID-19 between top public health officials in Canada and the U.S. has been limited, based on access to information records, but the few pieces of information released by the Canadian government show its chief public health officer leaning on her counterparts for advice.

The Epoch Times filed an Access to Information (ATIP) request for all communications between top officials of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and leadership personalities in the same field in the U.S., such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky and recently retired National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci.

The request returned a total of three emails, two of which were federal Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam sending PHAC annual reports to a CDC official whose name was redacted.

The one email unrelated to annual reports was sent on Dec. 20, 2021, with the subject line “Request for assistance on the use of oral antivirals for COVID-19.”

“I hope you are doing well even as we head into the holiday period with an escalation in omicron cases,” wrote Dr. Tam.

The Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus had been discovered a few weeks earlier and would soon infect a high number of people, vaccinated or not.

Tam said that PHAC was “pulling together a group of experts to look at the most effective use of the Pfizer antiviral Paxlovid, while awaiting regulatory approval.”

Pfizer had submitted the data on its oral antiviral drug Paxlovid to Health Canada on Dec. 1, 2021, and the department announced the drug’s authorization on Jan. 17, 2022 following an expedited review.

“Would you be able to link us to experts in the CDC or elsewhere in the US who are working on guidance, including recommendations for priority groups who could benefit from initial supplies,” asked Tam to the unidentified U.S. official.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the emergency use authorization of Paxlovid on Dec. 22, 2021.

The CDC official who replied had the designation “(CDC/OD)” after his or her name, suggesting work in the Office of the Director.

“Hope you too are hanging in. Somewhat relentless times,” the U.S. official wrote back.

“I’m cc’ing [redacted] here who would be the best person at CDC for you to link up with; [part of sentence redacted], if you can also bring in someone from FDA as needed.”

Press Release Collaboration

The latest Dr. Tam email provided in the disclosure is dated Nov. 1, 2022.

She was sharing with an unidentified CDC top official PHAC’s annual report titled “Mobilizing Public Health Action on Climate Change.”

“Thank you again for your collaboration earlier this year on the press release concerning vaccinations and booster shot availability,” she wrote in opening.

Details on the press release or the exact nature of the collaboration were not mentioned. PHAC was contacted for details.

Tam presented her report as a “unique contribution to the global discourse” providing “equity-focused recommendations on how public health systems can build on their strengths and the experiences of COVID-19 to better respond to the climate crisis.”

“This is a pivotal time for public health to continue to show leadership. We have the tools to understand climate change and figure out how to address this complex and growing challenge.”

The other email to a CDC official related to Tam sharing PHAC’s 2021 report, which she said was built on World Health Organization (WHO) “building blocks.”

“It is based on these building blocks that my vision for public health transformation in Canada is founded and further elaborated on in my report.”

The ATIP request surfaced no emails between U.S. officials and PHAC President Dr. Harpreet S. Kochhar or Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo.

Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal. Twitter: @NChartierET Gettr: @nchartieret