Doctor’s powerful message to Oldhamers who think coronavirus isn’t real

Reporter: Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
Date published: 26 January 2021

“Real people are on intensive treatment units, not with false positives but struggling to breathe oxygen.”

This is a Oldham GP’s powerful message to people who think the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax.

Dr John Patterson has spoken out to try and combat misinformation being spread about Covid-19, and to urge people reluctant to get the vaccine to speak to health professionals for advice.

The virus and ongoing pandemic has been the subject of an array of false information online, often about its scale and mortality rate, testing, and the ‘true’ purposes of the vaccines and lockdown restrictions.

Dr Patterson, Oldham CCG’s chief clinical officer, is on the frontline of the health battle against the virus and often comes up against the views of his own patients who buy into anti-Covid conspiracy theories.

“As a doctor I really understand that,” he said.

“I have patient after patient who wants to believe that their chest pain is a bit of stress and isn’t angina, who wants to believe that the shadow on the lung is just a bit of infection.

“It’s our nature as humans to hope for the best, to hope that there isn’t a monster under the bed. I have to say as a doctor this is a real and present threat.

“We have lost too many people and every death is personal. And I do think that most people have somebody in their emotional circle who has been significantly harmed by this infection.

“And I unfortunately have too many patients who have been sceptics who then have lost somebody and every GP in the land keeps a list of people who have passed away.”

He said he would urge people who are ‘believing the opposite’ to look at ‘both sides’ of the data, and balance fringe theories against the mainstream scientific and medical evidence.

“Real people are on intensive treatment units, not with false positives but struggling to breathe oxygen,” Dr Patterson added.

“Real people have been left debilitated for the rest of their life with long Covid.

“Young people in their 20s and 30s now have a different future because they thought it was ok not to wear the mask.

“This is no government conspiracy, you may or may not like the government but it is very real and I could take you to house after house after house of real people who have either passed away or now have lifetime debilitation because of their experience with this Covid.”

He explained that the ‘clock is ticking’ on the time left to get the pandemic under control, as demonstrated by the mutation of the virus into new – more transmissible – strains in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

Vaccinating the population will play a crucial part in finally getting a handle on the virus and being able to relax strict lockdown measures.

Dr Patterson said that anyone with concerns about getting the vaccine should speak to the medical staff who are administering the jab, so that they can hear the arguments supporting its widespread roll-out.

“Doctors and nurses have all got themselves vaccinated as soon as possible – what does that tell you about what doctors and nurses believe?,” he added.

“I have received the Covid vaccine, I was very very grateful to be able to do that.

“And it’s not the whole answer, it’s just part of the answer but please, please look at both sides of the argument because as a doctor I’m telling you this is a real and present danger and we need to turn this around.”

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