MYTH BUSTING: Morden respiratory therapist using Twitter to debunk COVID-19 misinformation

·4 min read

A health care worker on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle is using his Twitter account to call out the bizarre lengths that some are going to as they try to find their own cures and remedies for the virus, rather than get vaccinated.

On his Twitter account, Craig Doell of Morden said he is a respiratory therapist at the Boundary Trails Health Centre, which sits in between the cities of Morden and Winkler, and within the Southern Health-Santé Sud health district.

Southern Health currently has a vaccination rate well below the provincial average here in Manitoba, and while Doell said he has seen some refuse to get vaccinated in his area, he has also seen some claim they are using or considering using their own treatments and remedies found from online and outside sources.

In an Oct. 3 post, Doell Tweeted, “I’m just going to throw this out there. Nebulized inhaled hydrogen peroxide is not a treatment for COVID. I should not have to say this.”

And in an Oct. 4 post Doell Tweeted claiming that some even believe that diesel fuel could be used as an external medication for COVID-19, and for other illnesses.

“Another helpful hint,” he wrote in his post. “Mixing diesel fuel with Ivermectin and rubbing it on your chest is not a substitute for Vicks Vapo Rub, and neither are a treatment for COVID. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Can we just focus on prevention by vaccination please?”

Ivermectin, which is an anti-parasitic medication currently used on both humans and livestock, has recently been promoted by some online as a possible treatment for COVID-19, despite there currently being a lack of evidence to back up its effectiveness.

On his Twitter account, Doell took aim at those who are sharing medical misinformation online and made it clear his belief that they are putting people’s health and their lives at risk.

“When I hear of all these crazy home remedies being used, I can’t help but think about misinformation. These people got this info from somewhere and this info has potential to do serious harm. The people sharing and encouraging these remedies are the lowest of the low,” Doell Tweeted on Oct. 4.

And as Doell Tweets about some of the things he has heard and seen lately, he is also pleading with people in his community to get vaccinated and to do it even if they are being pressured not to by others.

“To the people about to go get vaccinated despite their family, friends, or faith group wishes. I support you! It takes real courage to go against those you love to protect those you don’t even know. You are heroes,” Doell Tweeted on Sept. 19.

The Southern Health-Santé Sud region currently has a vaccination rate about 20% lower than the rate in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) as Southern Health’s vaccination uptake sits at around 66% of eligible residents, while in the WRHA that number sits at 88%, according to statistics released on Thursday.

As well, in the Southern Health region there are currently 18 more active cases of COVID-19 than there are in the WRHA, despite Southern Health serving about 550,000 fewer residents.

On Twitter Doell is now asking others what more can be done to convince those who do not want to get vaccinated to change their minds.

“Serious question,” Doell posted on Sept. 28. “How do you increase the vaccination uptake in our area? It has flatlined. We have a terrible reputation and uptake hasn’t changed. I will continue to share my journey as I think people need to know how it’s impacting their local HCW’s. Real ideas please.

“My intentions are not to bring our reputation down any further with my tweets btw. That is an unintended side effect. What happens in our area affects the whole province when we’re filling up ICU beds with local patients. People are tired of this and it shows in the comments.”

The Winnipeg Sun reached out to Doell on Thursday, but he declined to be interviewed.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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