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UW professor calls pandemic a 'fake emergency' in chemistry course outline

The university says Michael Palmer's remarks did not represent the school's position

A University of Waterloo chemistry professor gave out a course outline to students, which included a remark about COVID-19.

Michael Palmer had written that the reason his in-class exams aren't mandatory was "because of the COVID fake emergency."

In a statement to 570 NEWS, the university's Dean of Science, Robert Lemieux says faculty were free to express their opinion, but it didn't represent the school's stance.

"The University of Waterloo respects the academic freedom of our faculty to express their opinions. This representation is not, however, shared by the University of Waterloo or the Faculty of Science. Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be based on the best available advice from public health officials, and is intended to minimize the risk of infection and harm to our faculty, students and staff. In this case, the professor has elected to move the course online."

Meanwhile, 570 NEWS reached out to Palmer with questions about why he chose to include the remark on a course outline to students.

It should be noted that in his email, Palmer says he has board certification as an MD in Germany, however he hasn't received accreditation in Canada. His views expressed in his responses are not widely shared within the medical community.

In his email, Palmer claimed COVID-19 was not nearly as dangerous as other have said it was, and that it wasn't any deadlier than the flu.

"All studies on COVID fatalities that I have seen, and which take into account the age and general medical condition of the deceased, find that COVID kills almost exclusively very old patients (>= 80 years), and among these those with severe preexisting disease," he wrote.

"Without COVID, these cases would mostly have been reported as due to the underlying disease, or sometimes as "pneumonia", often without naming a specific causative virus or bacterium; with the understanding not that an outbreak of pneumonia is underway, but instead that the underlying disease predisposed the patient in question to pneumonia, which thereby became the immediate (but not the underlying) cause of death."

However, the National Post wrote that while older demographics were at a higher risk of COVID-19, people in their fifties were not entirely safe either. Researchers are also learning more about the long-term effects of just contracting the virus too.

Palmer provided a link to the Gates of Vienna website that was hosting a clip from the German channel Sat:1 Regional to explain his position further. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a U.S. non-profit organization that monitors hate groups, catagorizes the website as Islamophobic.

In his email, Palmer says he mostly relied on information from Germany. The video he references feature an interview from April with the head of forensic medicine at the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf.

Another source Palmer provided was a link to a Youtube video featuring Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, a German physician and epidemiologist. Neither represent the scientific consensus on COVID-19 in Germany, a country widely lauded for their early response to the pandemic. In regards to Wodarg, he's been fact checked numerous times by German media.

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