Letters: I have trust issues with VCH

Dear Editor,

Re: “VCH responds to column,” Letters, May 21.

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While I’m firmly in the camp of those inclined to trust the advice from COVID-19 disease specialists, the explanation given by Dr. Meena Dawar for not testing asymptomatic people because of false negative results left me wondering about the logic being applied by Vancouver Coastal Health to the scientific facts.

While the number of false positive results is known to be very low, Dr. Bonnie Henry has explained that, “We now know that the false-negative rate can be as high as 30 per cent early on in infection.”

While missing 30 per cent of asymptomatic infected people is definitely a concern, it’s hard to fathom how that means we shouldn’t bother finding 70 per cent of the asymptomatic infected people who can unwittingly pass the infection on to others.

While we didn’t have to worry about them while they stayed at home, some asymptomatic infected people now want to ride public transport, dine in restaurants or play sports where players get close and touch the same ball.

Why not publish a list of such activities and ask those playing to voluntarily get tested?

We would find at least seven out of each 10 asymptomatic infected people and eliminate 70 per cent of potential disease transmission.

The argument against asymptomatic testing seems to be that the other three infected people would think they are not infected and act irresponsibly in a manner that would maximize the number of people they infect.

If so, it is because they have been told their test result is negative. They could instead be told their result is undetermined, which is what an unreliable negative result is.

The number of asymptomatic positive test results would also tell us how concerned we ought to be about asymptomatic disease transmission in Richmond.

The mayor and Coun. Au have protested the lack of information on COVID-19 transmission in Richmond being provided by VCH.

The reason given is that Richmond specific information might lull us into a false sense of security. It’s hard to imagine anything short of a vaccine would give us a sense of security.

John Roston


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