Public Health Agency of Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is an agency of the Government of Canada that is responsible for public health, emergency preparedness and response, and infectious and chronic disease control and prevention.

History

COVID-19

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, PHAC accessed data from some 33 million Canadian cell phones in order to track the movements of Canadians while under lockdown measures.1) In March 2021, the Agency awarded a contract to the Telus Data For Good program to provide “de-identified and aggregated data” of movement trends in Canada. However, Telus was not the only third party involved; in May 2022, it was revealed that artificial intelligence company BlueDot had also been awarded a similar contract, and had used the data accessed to view a detailed snapshot of people's behaviour, including visits to the grocery store, gatherings with family and friends, time spent at home and trips to other towns and provinces.2) 3)

Affiliations

External Advisory Bodies

Clinical Pharmacology Task Group

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PHAC convened the Clinical Pharmacology Task Group. The CPTG was an ad-hoc advisory committee comprised of experts in the fields of infectious disease, microbiology, clinical pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences.4) The group's work concluded on March 30, 2021.

The group met several times and released statements on COVID-19 therapeutics.

  • Remdesivir: “The CPTH recommends that remdesivir should only be administered as part of a randomized controlled trial to monitor whether potential benefits of remdesivir outweigh known and potential risks in the treatment of patients hospitalized with COVID-19.”5)
  • Hydroxychloroquine: The CPTH “recommends against the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for patients with COVID-19 due to negligible evidence of efficacy and significant potential for harm leading to a high risk to benefit ratio. This guidance is not meant to replace clinical judgement or specialist consultation.”6)
  • Dexamethasone: The CPTH “recommends that among hospitalized patients with COVID-19 who require supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation, dexamethasone 6 mg IV for 10 days (or until discharge, if earlier) or equivalent glucocorticoid dose should be strongly considered. This guidance is not meant to replace clinical judgment or specialist consultation.”7)

Associates

1)
Oli, S. (2021, December 27). Canada’s public health agency admits it tracked 33 million mobile devices during lockdown. National Post. https://archive.ph/QxghQ
2)
Woolf, M. (2022, May 5). Canadians’ trips to liquor stores, pharmacies tracked via phones during pandemic. CP24. https://archive.ph/0r1ai
3)
Kelly, P. (2022). Collection and use of mobility data by the Government of Canada and related issues. House of Commons Canada. https://web.archive.org/web/20220726004633/https://www.ourcommons.ca/Content/Committee/441/ETHI/Reports/RP11736929/ethirp04/ethirp04-e.pdf
4)
Public Health Agency of Canada. (2021, June 15). COVID-19 Clinical Pharmacology Task Group. Government of Canada. https://archive.ph/bOwuH
5)
Forbes, N., Patel, M., Rieder, M., & Salvadori, M. (2020, November 23). Statement on remdesivir: Ad-hoc COVID-19 Clinical Pharmacology Task Group. Wayback Machine; Government of Canada. https://web.archive.org/web/20201227053515/https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/corporate/mandate/about-agency/external-advisory-bodies/list/covid-19-clinical-pharmacology-task-group/statement-remdesivir.html
6)
Forbes, N., Patel, M., Rieder, M., & Salvadori, M. (2020, October 22). Statement on hydroxychloroquine: COVID-19 Clinical Pharmacology Task Group. Wayback Machine; Government of Canada. https://archive.ph/mv6cT
7)
Forbes, N., Patel, M., Rieder, M., & Salvadori, M. (2020, November 23). Statement on dexamethasone: COVID-19 Clinical Pharmacology Task Group. Wayback Machine; Government of Canada. https://archive.ph/MhUpS
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