A top doctor has lashed out at a conspiracy theory spreading like wildfire on social media, picking apart the main arguments behind the theory.
Dr Sara Hassan from Melbourne shared a graphic being spread on Facebook by coronavirus deniers, which claimed that only 6 per cent of the COVID-19 related deaths reported in the US were actually caused by COVID-19.
The US has been ravaged by coronavirus, so far reporting more than 183,000 deaths out of over six million confirmed cases.
“I’m getting on this early because this type of misinformation and outright deliberate mischaracterisation of the facts is already making the rounds amongst conspiracy theorists hellbent on twisting facts to suit their agenda,” Dr Hassan said in a Facebook post.
“Those who spread these mistruths have one intention: To attempt to throw doubt about COVID deaths, minimise the seriousness of the pandemic, and ultimately encourage people to revolt against any mitigation put in place to prevent further deaths.”
Dr Hassan said the claims had come from a chiropractor in the US “who has obviously never completed a death certificate in her life”.
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The claims are a screenshot from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing COVID-19 related deaths in the country since the beginning of the pandemic.
“By focusing on the breakdown of deaths by comorbidity, this chiropractor has concluded that given only six per cent of COVID deaths had no other comorbidity listed on their death certificate (and) that this somehow means that ONLY six per cent of the COVID death tally is attributed to COVID, and the remaining 94 per cent of deaths are not,” Dr Hassan said.
“Such outrageous, ignorant and patently false claims are now spreading through social media by bored conspiracy theorists with a serious case of Stuckhome Syndrome,” she said.
“We know as a fact that people with underlying comorbidities are more susceptible to dying of COVID than those without pre-existing health issues.
“We know that COVID infection in those with underlying cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, obesity, diabetes, immunosuppression and chronic neurological conditions results in worse disease outcomes.
“This is clearly evident in epidemiological data coming out of COVID-affected nations,” she said.
Australian data showed 67 per cent of pandemic-related deaths had at least one comorbidity, she said.
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However, Dr Hassan said while conspiracy theorists are sharing the screenshot to validate their “false belief that COVID deaths are criminally over-inflated,” she said as a doctor able to interpret the statistics correctly, they show something more frightening.
“The fact that six per cent of COVID victims had absolutely no underlying pre-existing condition is terrifying,” she said.
“They were relatively healthy individuals and they still succumbed to this wildly infectious and unpredictable disease.”
Dr Hassan shared another post from Dr Sara Marzouk on how death certificates are written, saying she was concerned about laypeople misinterpreting information being shared on social media.
“For those whose only interest is to argue with indisputable fact, spread misinformation, encourage life-threatening complacency and erode confidence in our public health authorities/ health care workers/scientists, then please don’t bother commenting as you’ll be automatically blocked,” she wrote.
Dr Hassan’s post has gone viral, attracting more than 1200 reactions and being shared more than 1700 times.
“Thank you Dr! The more real information out there, the better it is for everyone,” one person commented with a heart emoji.
“Just thank you for taking the time to be a voice of reason when those, with a serious case of #stuckathome-itis who are no doubt afraid but horribly misinformed, seemed to be the loudest,” one woman commented on the post.
“This information merely confirms the warning the (World Health Organisation) stipulated at the start of the pandemic, that the elderly and those with comorbidities were at risk,” one man commented on the post. “Well hello! So they were right.”