Coronavirus: Doctors reveal how they deal with COVID-19 deniers who catch virus but insist it's not COVID

Doctors have revealed what its like to treat COVID-19 deniers on Reddit.
Doctors have revealed what its like to treat COVID-19 deniers on Reddit. Photo credit: Getty Images

Doctors around the world are revealing how they deal with COVID-19 deniers who contract the virus, but still insist the coronavirus isn't real. 

In a thread on Reddit, user IzziSparks posed the question: "Doctors of Reddit: What happened when you diagnosed a COVID-19 denier with COVID-19?" 

The thread amassed more than 18,000 comments from doctors, nurses, friends of medical professionals, and others who have dealt with a COVID-19 denier who later contracted the disease.

The majority of responses came from the US, which has recorded 32 million cases of the virus  and more than 570,000 deaths.

Some also shared their tricks to turn patients from deniers into believers very quickly. 

"Didn't diagnose a denier, so not exactly this, but did have a patient refuse testing upon admission and aggressively yelling 'COVID is a hoax'," explains a doctor.

"I calmly said, 'Ok. Nurse, since we won't know his status, please admit him to the COVID floor'.

He became a believer in an instant and requested to be tested."

Another doctor said they have a way of getting anti-vaxxers to "shut up".

"I've memorized a copypasta-esque [sic] thing for anti-vaxxers that act like they know what they're talking about (I am not an immunologist at all)," they started.

"Goes something like: Karen, you've done your research on vaccines, correct? So what was your opinion on the PCV2-specific lymphocytes that increased the number of TH, TC, and CD3-positive T-cells in the blood of DNA vaccine immune groups?

"I have absolutely no idea what I'm saying, but it always shuts them up right away because it actually is medical jargon."

One doctor acknowledged many deniers eventually accept the existence of COVID-19 after contracting the virus.

"I'm pretty pleased to say that several of my COVID-denying patients have completely turned their attitude around when they (or a close family member) contracted COVID," they said.

"Even if their case wasn't severe, the sudden terror that they could wind up on a ventilator overnight really puts the fear of God into people."

However, some don't.

"Unfortunately, I still have some patients who are still pretty obnoxious despite their COVID diagnosis. They mostly dig in deeper into paranoia. If not about the virus itself, then about the circumstances surrounding them contracting it."

Healthcare professionals also explained how their own health had been put at risk by deniers attempting to remove PPE. 

"I work on a COVID unit and I ran into a patient like this. They'd tell me over and over again about how they weren't really sick and about how I didn't need to be gowned up in PPE. They even tried to take my face shield off."

Others said some deniers will refuse to accept COVID-19's existence even after a relative dies from the virus.

A doctor working in acute internal medicine told the story of a COVID-positive woman who had deteriorated to a point where she finally accepted medical intervention. 

The woman, who died 24 hours after her admission, continued to deny she had COVID-19.

"[Her family] were convinced she never had COVID and even went as far as accusing us of withholding life-saving treatment from her," the doctor said. 

In another example, a doctor shared how one denier showcased her lack of understanding following the death of her husband. 

"Just before the family took the body away, I gave the widow the death certificate (that I filled out) and she turns around and waves the certificate yelling, 'See! I told you it wasn't COVID! It says here: Death due to pulmonary pneumonia due to SARS-CoV-2! I knew it was a bacteria!'

"I told her: "SARS-CoV-2 is COVID-19, ma'am."

Some patients had theories about hospitals trying to intentionally infect people with COVID-19. 

"She said somebody must have injected her with chemicals from a Wuhan lab while she was at the hospital the day prior," explained a friend of a nurse. "But then she also said it was fake. Not sure how that works out.

"She allowed a saline IV, and then removed it and claimed it was full of 'vaccine tests to eradicate white people'. THEN she demanded her family be allowed into the hospital and COVID ward without a mask. This carried on as she got sicker and sicker over about 48 hours. Before she slipped out of consciousness, the last words she said to my friend were 'you'll burn in hell for your part in this."

Verbal abuse from deniers is also common, one doctor explained: "Some died telling me I was a sheep or an idiot or a liar between gasps of air.

"COVID didn't care."