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Controversial U of G prof called as vaccine 'expert' in family court fight

Byram Bridle was used as an expert witness by a woman fighting for control over her son's vaccination decisions with the boy's father
20170921 Dr Byram Bridle Terry Fox Foundation KA
Byram Bridle, associate professor in U of G's Department of Pathobiology.

A Toronto mother chose a controversial University of Guelph professor as her expert witness in a battle with the father over who should should have the final say in their son's vaccinations.

U of G professor Byram Bridle, whose stance on COVID-19 vaccines was front page news during the peak of the pandemic and has been criticized by much of the scientific and medical community, was called as an expert by a mother fighting with the father of their 11-year-old son over who would control if and what vaccines the boy would receive.

The father wanted the boy to receive standard vaccinations and the COVID vaccine. The mother did not.

The court ruling determined the father, who does not have custody of the child, was best to make those decisions.

"In deciding this issue, the court must determine which parent is best capable of making vaccination decisions in their child’s best interests," said Justice Sheilagh O’Connell in her written decision granting control to the father.

The child had COVID last February, reinforcing the father's quest to get him vaccinated for COVID.

The father's expert witness was Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, an internal medicine and infectious diseases specialist at the University Health Network. He testified that the 11 year old should receive the COVID vaccine at the appropriate time.

"Dr. Sharkawy also discussed the concerns raised by some, including the mother’s proposed expert, about the MRNA technology used to create the vaccine. He explained that this technology is not new and that it has been around for many years," said the written judgment.

"Dr. Sharkawy’s medical practice is at Toronto Western Hospital, where he has worked on the Covid ward and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) attending Covid patients since the beginning of the pandemic. He is trained in pediatric infectious diseases. He has had extensive first-hand, front line “real world” experience treating Covid patients throughout the pandemic."

The judge noted that Sharkawy's opinions regarding vaccines for children are shared by numerous health organizations around the world.

While acknowledging that Bridle is an expert in his research field, she ruled he was not qualified to give expert opinion on this case.

"However ... the court does not accept that Dr. Bridle is qualified to give opinion evidence with respect to the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine for children," the ruling states.

"Dr. Bridle acknowledged that he is not a medical doctor. He has never vaccinated a child, he has never treated a child or an adult suffering from a reaction to a vaccine, nor has he ever treated a child or an adult who is suffering from an infectious disease."

She noted that when asked by the court if he accepted that the COVID vaccine prevents serious illness and death, regardless of the shorter duration of immunity,  Bridle would not acknowledge that receiving the vaccine prevented severe or serious illness and death. In fact, he stated that vaccinated people are at greater risk than unvaccinated people given his interpretation of hospital admissions.

"Respectfully, this is so far removed from the mainstream and widely accepted views of the Canadian and international medical and scientific community that the court cannot accept Dr. Bridle’s evidence on the Covid vaccine as reliable," the judge ruled.