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Doctors Spread False Covid Information

The Philadelphia Inquirer reporters Jason Laughlin and Maddie Hanna write in a recent news report that ‘the some doctors and nurses share COVID-19 falsehoods and thus becoming misinformation superspreaders’.

In Philadelphia, Kayla Ottey, a nurse practitioner, is reportedly one of the many the trained medical professionals “touting misinformation about COVID-19 prevention and treatment that, many fear, are discouraging vaccination and even lengthening the pandemic”.

I think it’s an evil thing to do. It causes people to make decisions that can kill themselves or others.

Paul Offit, a pediatrician and director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (source: The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Dr. Offit added “Misinformation has fed wishful thinking (COVID-19 is no worse than the flu) or hopes for a quick cure (hydroxychloroquine) since the first months of the pandemic in the United States. This year, vaccines have been a focal point for disinformation, contributing to just 54% of the country being fully vaccinated, well below the number needed tocurb the pandemic.”

According to media reports some key players in Covid disinformation, also known as the “Disinformation Dozen” produce 65% of the shares of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms.

Referring to Dr. Simone Gold, a trained Emergency Physician in California, NPR News writes “This Doctor Spread False Information About COVID. She Still Kept Her Medical License”. In a recent talk at a conservative church in California, where Dr. Gold was reportedly pushing some drugs that she reportedly offered to prescribe to the audience in exchange for $90 telehealth appointments.

“Gold is not the only physician promoting misinformation while avoiding professional censure. NPR looked at medical licenses for 16 doctors, including Gold, who have proven track records of doing so online and in media interviews. Fifteen of the 16 had active licenses in good standing. One appeared to have let his license expire, but there was no suggestion in his record that it was because of any disciplinary action.”

Physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license.

The Federation of State Medical Boards in a statement (source: NPR News)

,Jennifer Bryan, MD, board chair of the Mississippi State Medical Association, reported saying “That’s the problem ― those types of viral videos of someone somewhere who thinks they know something the rest of us don’t. I don’t know any good reason why a physician should be advising against vaccination. It’s appropriate for medical boards to look into those situations.”

According to Art Caplan, PhD, a professor of bioethics at the NYU School of Medicine, New York City “Unless you can show a harm to an individual patient, it’s pretty tough to get the boards to do much. I wish they would, but they just don’t.”

“I’m disappointed to have to say it, but I don’t think medical boards are going to be effective. We don’t know how to manage misinformation despite being in a plague. We just don’t.”

Coronavirus-19 vaccination watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of September 16, 9 a.m.) 462,384,885 doses have been distributed and 383,038,403 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of September 14) a total of 6,320,203 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of September 16) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 678,978 (out of 11,959,420 tested) with 7,970 deaths.