Life at № 42
In a video posted Monday online, a group of people calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors” and wearing white medical coats spoke against the backdrop of the Supreme Court in Washington, sharing misleading claims about the virus, including that hydroxychloroquine was an effective coronavirus treatment and that masks did not slow the spread of the virus.
And this video was (dangerously and irresponsibly) shared far and wide. Like others in the same vein it has reached millions of people around the world. As with most conspiracy theories, a good way of testing their plausibility is considering what underlying facts must be in evidence for the theory to be true.
First let’s lay out the most salient points.
Who are we talking about: Dr. Stella Immanuel, a Cameroonian doctor who qualified in Nigeria. She also doubles as the pastor and owner of Fire Power Ministries in Texas.
Immanuel claims masks do not stop the spread of the virus. Here’s a link to detailed information from Stanford Medical School explaining the role of masks in preventing the spread of this type of disease. If you’re interested in the history of mask use in medicine there’s a very interesting piece in The Lancet by Bruno Strasser and Thomas Schlich.
The Doctor/Pastor also claims hydroxychloroquine is a miracle cure for Covid-19 and that she’s treated hundreds of patients with it. The problem is this is a drug which has been tested around the world with its results scrutinised by doctors and academics. The vast majority came to the conclusion it did not have substantive curative properties. Now what underlying facts must be in place for her claim to be true? Hyrdoxychloroquine was administered in France (promoted by Dr. Raoult), Italy, Spain, China (and others). In none of the trials was there a significant success rate. So for Immanuel’s claim to be true, we’d have to believe all the doctors who administered the drug around the world have come together in a conspiracy to actively hide evidence of their success. To do this they had to count on the collaboration of nurses, hospital employees and of the patients themselves. That’s just one of the more absurd facts that would have to be in place for her theory to be true, but there are many more. Which ones can you spot?