Five Unity Health experts are helping inform Ontario's response to the pandemic

Updated: Feb 12

Original author: Maria Sarrouh Published: November 16, 2020 Source:

Can we track COVID-19 through our province’s waste water? This is one of the many questions on the minds of the experts on Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

Every week, a team of nearly 40 scientists with diverse backgrounds gather to discuss questions pertaining to the pandemic that you may have never considered. The Science Table provides weekly summaries of the best global evidence to the Province of Ontario’s Health Coordination Table, and recaps findings for the public in the form of Science Briefs. Through sharing their expertise, Dr. Peter Jüni, director of the Science Table, along with his Unity Health colleagues Drs. Arthur Slutsky, Janet Smylie, Fahad Razak and Pavlos Bobos are playing an essential role in guiding the government’s decision-making.

Drs. Pavlos Bobos, Peter Jüni, Arthur Slutsky, Janet Smylie and Fahad Razak participate in a Zoom call.

Each member of the table draws on a unique research background. For example, the sickest COVID-19 patients will sometimes develop Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), experience acute lung failure and require mechanical ventilation. These topics are Dr. Slutsky’s areas of expertise as a researcher at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science, and he has published over 20 articles on COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Dr. Slutsky said he hopes the Science Table can support the province in more clinical trials on patients being treated for COVID-19. He used the example of the RECOVERY Trial conducted by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, where COVID-19 treatments are being tested on over 14,000 patients across the country.

“We’re a single health-care system. We could be doing more things like that,” Dr. Slutsky said. “And six months from now, we’ll have more answers than we do now, because of work done in Ontario.”

What he thinks is particularly notable about the Science Table is its size and diversity.

“We have members with different backgrounds: epidemiology, virology, clinical trials, mathematical modeling…everything you need for this kind of thing,” Dr. Slutsky said. “Ontario should know this.”