It is easy to fall for bad information peddled by bad doctors online. I can’t debunk it all, but I can dissect one video which is doing the rounds on social media, as an illustration of what to watch out for.

Perhaps people have always divided themselves into radically opposite camps on various issues, but it sure seems that social media algorithms push us into ever-more extreme positions. There is no space for a moderate, reasoned middle ground.

The reason I don’t use Google as a search engine is that its serves up confirmation bias. It learns my preferences, and panders to them. If I look up anything about economics or politics, it’s going to give me libertarian results. And the more I click on them, the more radical the results get, until I’ve got Infowars and qAnon conspiracy theories all over my damn screen.

I use a search engine that does not remember my searches or track my results. Every time I search, it gives me results without any prior knowledge about what I might want to hear. As a journalist, that lack of bias is worth gold. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me aware of views contrary to my own opinions, and alerts me to flaws in my own arguments.

With social media, there is no such anti-bias filter. I try to follow people I disagree with on Twitter, but even then, the algorithm tends to serve up increasingly sensational partisan bias, because sensationalism is clickbait, and after all, when the product is free, I am the product being sold to advertisers.

So, here I am, a declared opponent of lockdowns. I am a skeptic of Covid-19 epidemiological models. I doubt the validity of PCR tests (and there’s a great podcast here that explains exactly why). I think the virus is less serious than we’ve been told, but more serious than the flu.

Because I think Covid-19 is real and serious, and I’m okay with vaccinating against it, I get denounced as a shill for Bill Gates, the World Health Organisation, Big Pharma and government tyranny. Because I oppose government lockdowns and question the official statistics, I get denounced as a Covid denier. Can’t win.

Covid denial

I recently came across a video made by a group of doctors calling itself the World Doctor Alliance. On the face of it, the group, and the content of its petition, which has amassed over 55 000 signatures to date, seems reasonable. I agree with many (though not all) of the points it makes in the petition.

However, their video, entitled ‘Ask The Experts’, convinced me that the correctness of these claims seems to be largely a matter of chance, not expertise.

They proudly announce that the video has been banned from YouTube and Facebook. This isn’t entirely true, since it is available here, albeit with an overlay warning that it contains false information. A copy that likely is safe from censorship is available here.

The video leads with Dr Andrew Kaufman, whose name I’ve seen mentioned a lot in Covid-denial circles. So I looked into who he is.

As it says in the video, he is a psychiatrist. He is not a virologist, immunologist, epidemiologist, or any of the other medical specialities that might be relevant to having a credible ‘doctor’s’ opinion on Covid-19. He has undergraduate training in molecular biology. He calls himself a ‘natural healing consultant’, which one can confidently read as ‘quack’.

Imagine my surprise to learn that Kaufman not only denies that SARS-CoV-2 causes Covid-19, but he denies that SARS-CoV-2 exists in the first place. In fact, he denies that any viruses exist, at all.

Instead, he believes that disease is caused by toxins in the body, and transmitted via exosomes. Viruses, in Kaufman’s mind, are exosomes.

Of course, we have actual pictures of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its spike protein, taken via a cryo-electron microscope (source):

Here are some more sources that visually demonstrate the existence of the virus.

We also have cryo-electron microscope pictures of extracellular vesicles, or exosomes (source):

They don’t look at all similar to SARS-CoV-2, do they? Yet Dr Kaufman says they’re the same thing.

He makes a big deal of the question whether Koch’s postulates have been fulfilled for Covid-19. These are four criteria developed in 1890 to establish a causal link between a micro-organism and a disease. Since he cites Wikipedia as his source for those postulates, let me quote from the first paragraph: ‘These postulates were generated before modern concepts in microbial pathogenesis that cannot be examined using Koch’s postulates, including viruses (which are obligate cellular parasites) and asymptomatic carriers. They have largely been supplanted by other criteria such as the Bradford Hill criteria for infectious disease causality in modern public health.’

Kaufman’s false claims

In the video, Kaufman says this ‘pandemic’ is not a ‘real medical pandemic’. He offers no reasons for saying so, so a simple reference to the dictionary will do: A pandemic is ‘a disease prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world.’

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been 1.57 million deaths worldwide due to 69 million confirmed cases of Covid-19. The disease has been independently identified by many different countries, of many different ideologies. China, Russia, the UK, and the US are not friends, so why would they all agree on this?

Now we might argue about the accuracy or utility of the statistics, but that there is a disease going around that is prevalent throughout the whole world cannot be in doubt. Yet Kaufman says that no deaths have occurred due to a new disease. To believe that, you’d have to believe that many thousands of scientists, doctors, and nurses, the world over, all agreed, all of a sudden, to flat-out lie to the public.

He claims that ‘the Covid-19 vaccine has not proven safe or effective, because there has not been enough time’. In reality, there are many vaccines that are under development, in clinical trials, or awaiting regulatory approval. Those that have been submitted for approval have been undergoing clinical trials for 10 or 11 months. They have completed all the phases usually associated with clinical trials. Those trials proved them to be both safe and effective, contrary to Kaufman’s unsupported claim.

Kaufman says that ‘there is not a clear definition for a disease for which you can be tested’. That is also not true.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been clearly isolated and identified, in multiple countries, and it does not match any other known respiratory pathogen. The genetic sequence for the virus was published in January, and there are tests that can detect the virus, as well as tests that can detect the antigens against the virus in the body. They might not be very good tests but saying that there’s nothing to test for is arrant nonsense.

So we have here a ‘natural healing’ quack with no relevant credentials, who uses outdated medical concepts, and disputes the germ theory of disease. Perhaps he’ll win a Nobel Prize for his discovery in the near future, but first, I would expect him to publish some actual peer-reviewed papers about it. To date, he has published exactly nothing in any field even closely related to virology.

In the meantime, I wouldn’t let him near my pet hamster.

Magical doctor

Let’s have a look at some of the other stars of this Covid-denial show.

Dr Hilde de Smet practices natural and complementary therapies, applied kinesiology, traditional Chinese medicine, auriculotherapy, herbs and nutritional supplements, homeopathy, and light therapy, and has studied many healing systems, from the esoteric healing of Alice A. Bailey, Reiki, and the Alchemic Healing of Tareth, to the Toltec traditions from Mexico, the Q’ero traditions from Peru and traditional Amazonian healing methods.

Although she qualified as a doctor, with a specialisation in anaesthesiology, you’ll notice a paucity of science-based disciplines in her actual practice. In her case, MD stands for ‘magical doctor’.

She warns that wearing masks causes hypercapnia (excess CO2), but doesn’t specify by how much. Surprisingly, she actually has published a relevant paper in a medical journal, in which they found that hypercapnia exerts a protective effect on the lungs.

She also offers a vague scare-story about why prospective Covid-19 vaccines might be unsafe, which is mostly rooted in the naturopath’s hypocritical antipathy towards conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical industry, but she does not support her theory with any substantive evidence.

In particular, she says that animal trials were skipped in the development of new Covid-19 vaccines. This is false.

She has published nothing even remotely related to virology or vaccinology.

Quacksalvery and pseudoscience

Dr Nils Fosse turns up a blank, other than a profile picture at the Bergen Private Health Centre, where he is identified as a ‘diving doctor and general practitioner’. He does not appear to have published any academic papers.

Maybe he’s a secret agent or a superhero. One would have to be, to use Norway’s death rates as representative of the world, or even Europe. That is an error even a first-year stats student wouldn’t make.

Do your own research, Fosse says. Well, I did, and what I found did not make this lot look good.

Dr Elizabeth Evans describes herself as a retired doctor, though it is not clear what brought on her retirement. She still practices, however, as a tin-foil-hat woo-woo healer, which suggests her retirement was precipitated by an acute case of ignorance.

She uses ‘Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques’, which is quacksalvery developed by a chiropractor and based on the pseudoscience of kinesiology. She is also a ‘Mitochondrial Rescue Practitioner’ and ‘Wireless Radiation Health Adviser’.

She has published no research.

Dr Mohammad Adil has had his medical licence suspended for 12 months by the UK General Medical Council, for public statements claiming that Covid-19 is a hoax orchestrated by global elites in order to control the world.

It is true that governments are abusing the pandemic to give themselves powers they should not have, and to suspend liberties that they have no business suspending. That does not mean the pandemic is a hoax, however.

If you also think it’s a hoax, I invite you to visit a hospital in one of the local hotspots and hear directly from the doctors and nurses there. Mind you, they’re probably too busy with Covid-19 patients to bother talking to a crank, so perhaps draw your own conclusions from that.

A hoax, like AIDS

Dr Vernon Coleman also thinks it’s a hoax. Like all good conspiracy theorists, he complains that ‘the truth’ is being silenced, and he is being smeared. Like all good conspiracy theorists, his website looks like something out of the 1990s.

He has also said AIDS is a hoax, and that it never was a threat to heterosexuals. He believes the end of the world is nigh because we’re running out of oil, and everyone is lying about how much we have left. He thinks everyone who voted against Brexit is a Nazi.

He is a superb self-promoter, a prolific self-published author, and runs hundreds of premium-rate helplines, many of them about sex.

He’s been fined for misconduct as a GP, has been censured by the Press Complaints Commission, has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, and has been injuncted by the High Court.

The newspapers once described him as ‘rather like those crazed nutters who go up and down Oxford Street with huge sandwich boards proclaiming, say, that the end of the world is nigh’.

Ironically, Dr Coleman says you shouldn’t trust your doctor. I’ll take that to mean you shouldn’t trust him, either.

Dr Dolores Cahill is a far-right populist politician and member of the new, albeit bumbling, Irish Freedom Party, which seeks Ireland’s exit from the EU. She was involved in several protests that got violent, and at which anti-vaccination, anti-lockdown, anti-mask, anti-social-distancing and anti-5G sentiments were expressed.

She is the first person in this video who actually is a molecular biologist and immunologist, so who might have some relevant medical research experience. However, she has been asked to resign from a leading EU scientific committee, and her employer, the University College Dublin School of Medicine, where she is a professor of translational medicine, has publicly distanced itself from her views on Covid-19.

She thinks vitamins will protect you against Covid-19, and that Covid-19 can be treated ‘very successfully with vitamins D, C, and zinc and with very safe medicines’.

This is not true. There is no well-established treatment protocol for Covid-19, and severe disease is far too often irreversible. Her claim that a vaccine is therefore not necessary then also doesn’t hold up.

She repeats the red herring that in the past, animal studies of mRNA vaccines caused serious side-effects. This is true. They used to elicit an inflammatory response in test subjects, and this is why mRNA vaccines have never before been successful.

The reason they work now is because the technique has been modified to prevent this inflammatory response, and animal studies in mice, macaque monkeys, and indeed humans, have shown that the new vaccines do not cause any inflammatory response.

Fake experts bloviating

And so it goes on, fake expert after fake expert bloviating about conspiracies, hoaxes, and things they do not appear to understand.

Yes, we should be skeptical of official government statements. We should oppose lockdowns, because they do not work and they cause great harm. We should be critical of the statistics and the science, because this pandemic is a learning curve for everyone.

However, that does not mean we should fall for crackpot theories promoted by discredited doctors and conspiracy nutters.

Covid-19 is not a hoax, and we absolutely should take reasonable precautions to prevent its transmission, especially with a view to protect the elderly, protect those with medical conditions that make them vulnerable, and protect our over-burdened healthcare infrastructure.

Don’t let rational skepticism turn into crazy denialism.

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

If you like what you have just read, support the Daily Friend

Image by Parentingupstream from Pixabay


Ivo Vegter is a freelance journalist, columnist and speaker who loves debunking myths and misconceptions, and addresses topics from the perspective of individual liberty and free markets.