Anti-vaccine Facebook groups have a new message for their community members: Don’t go to the emergency room, and get your loved ones out of intensive care units.
Consumed by conspiracy theories claiming that doctors are preventing unvaccinated patients from receiving miracle cures or are even killing them on purpose, some people in anti-vaccine and pro-ivermectin Facebook groups are telling those with Covid-19 to stay away from hospitals and instead try increasingly dangerous at-home treatments, according to posts seen by NBC News over the past few weeks.
The messages represent an escalation in the mistrust of medical professionals in groups that have sprung up in recent months on social media platforms, which have tried to crack down on Covid misinformation. And it’s something that some doctors say they’re seeing manifest in their hospitals as they have filled up because of the most recent delta variant wave.
“We were down to four Covid patients two months ago. In this surge, we’ve had 40 to 50 patients with Covid on four different ICU services, 97 percent of them unvaccinated,” said Wes Ely, an ICU doctor and professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “We were making headway, and now we’re just losing really, really badly. There’s something that’s happening on the internet, and it’s dramatically increasing steam.”