I said I’d let you know the outcome of a debate that took place at the 4th Canadian Symposium on Hepatitis C in Banff, Alberta. Two eloquent researchers defended opposing sides of the proposition, “Be it resolved that new HCV treatments should only be used on the sickest patients (F2 and above).” Judged by a strong round of audience applause, the “no” side won.
This was a heartening result for a serious topic, but the debate was less than serious. The organizers wisely decided that attendees needed a respite from brain-straining presentations about cutting-edge research and public health.
The debaters were Dr. Curtis Cooper, an associate professor with the University of Ottawa and director of the Ottawa Hospital Viral Hepatitis Program, and Dr. Jorden Feld, a gastroenterologist, assistant professor, and scientist at the University Health Network in Toronto. Both have many more designations and could also claim spots on The Last Comic Standing.
They hurled facts at each other, and meanwhile threw barbs at their opponent. Cooper warned the audience, “I might lie. All with the goal of winning this debate.”
But in the end he lost. Cooper noted that treatment for everyone with HCV would cost $15 billion, which Canada couldn’t afford. But Jordan suggested that the government take a second look at spending $56 billion on defense aircraft. “Do we really need these planes?” he asked. “If we took away just two of them we could pay for all the hepatitis treatment in Canada.”