The Interview: Ryan Imgrund, Biostatistician (@imgrund)

A comprehensive Toronto/Covid-19 discussion with biostatistician, Ryan Imgrund. Also, when we might see live basketball back.

4 mins read

Host Zarar Siddiqi is joined by Ryan Imgrund (@imgrund), who is a biostatistician for South Lake Regional Health Center. He is the Department Head of Science at York Catholic District School Board. Ryan provides analysis of the Covid-19 outbreak, and is the author of some valuable risk assessment tools and frameworks used by several Ontario institutions. His work has been featured on CBC, the Toronto Star, CTV and other media outlets.

We discuss:

  • The quality of the guidance provided by the provincial government
  • The R0 metric and its importance
  • Target for the R0 metric
  • Why it’s so difficult to calculate the R0 metric in Ontario (hint: contract tracing)
  • The failure to anticipate more symptomatic people in second wave than first
  • The challenges with random sampling to determine true infection rate; nasal and saliva tests
  • South Korea and Ontario – same problem, two different solutions
  • Data privacy and contract tracing; attitudes across cultures
  • Ontario not encouraging use of the contact tracing app enough
  • The lack of data to make informed decisions about what business to close
  • Having an event outdoor isn’t enough – example from states
  • Doug Ford’s looking for evidence that is impossible to collect
  • Just how did we end up opening strip clubs, and what’s even worse than strip clubs
  • How much are schools contributing to the spike in cases
  • Do children transmit the virus less than adults?
  • New learning about Covid – “the viral load”, getting and recovering from it isn’t as black and white as we thought
  • Will the R0 number change if we keep things open?
  • How many daily cases to expect over the next few months if no changes to policy made?
  • Should we be concerned about hospital capacity?
  • Infections spreading to older population again with Thanksgiving coming up
  • What would Ryan advise from a policy standpoint to curb the spread?
  • Lack and inconsistency in tracking metrics on which to based decision-making
  • What defines a “second wave”?
  • A case count in March isn’t the same as the same case count now, “700 now is like 3000 back in March”
  • The manual work involved to contact trace a single case
  • What needs to be true to play a Raptors home game at 25% capacity
  • What are the chances of 1500 people showing up at the Scotiabank center and none of them having Covid?
  • The most popular statistical chart for parents out there – chance of your particular child’s class having a positive case (by region and class size)
  • How many people do you have to encounter in your region to meet someone with Covid?
  • Your chance to define an “encounter” and be safe
  • Are we repeating the mistakes from March/April?
  • Not all public health units being transparent about data
  • Use of data to inform school class sizes by neighborhood
  • The importance of the timing of class rotations
  • How deaths are predicted and whether new treatments influence the prediction models
  • Some Raptors talk

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Thank you for listening.

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