Coronavirus: UK doctor hits out at 'damaging' conspiracy theorists

Coronavirus: UK doctor hits out at 'damaging' conspiracy theorists
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A doctor in the United Kingdom has spoken out against the "damaging" conspiracy theories and misinformation he's heard during the pandemic.

David Oliver, an NHS consultant physician currently managing two COVID-19 wards, wrote for the Manchester Evening News he wanted "to explain how damaging it can be when some individuals or groups pump out untruths, distortions, bile and blame" around the frontline response to the virus.

He said distorting the truth around the severity of the virus and claiming it is a hoax "helps no one except individuals dining out on the notoriety and attention".

"The kind of statements being made come across as a concerted effort to convince us all that we are completely over-reacting to a pandemic and a disease that is apparently 'no worse than normal seasonal flu'," he said.

He lists several conspiracies he's heard including the death rates are exaggerated, COVID tests are almost all false positives, and doctors will cause more deaths by prioritising COVID-19-infected people over other patients.

"With this narrative all over Facebook, Twitter and more sinister groupings like QAnon or Project Veritas and amplified out by some high-profile columnists in right-wing papers and shock-jock radio stations, is it any surprise that so many are sabotaging and ignoring health protection behaviours like mask-wearing in enclosed spaces or large public gatherings?"

Oliver wrote that while everyone may want to wish the pandemic away, it still merits "serious attention" from the public, health and social care workers, and policymakers.

"Could we start by accepting that the COVID-19 virus is real, can cause serious harm and requires serious solutions? Those of us going into work every day at risk to ourselves and our families to support patients hit very hard by it would appreciate it."

On November 21, the UK announced 19,875 new cases and 341 deaths. The country has recorded a total of nearly 1.5 million cases and almost 55,000 deaths, ranking it the seventh in the world for the number of COVID-19 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus count.