COVID conspiracy doctor allowed to renew medical license with a mouse click -- as calls for consequences intensify

COVID conspiracy doctor allowed to renew medical license with a mouse click -- as calls for consequences intensify
A Palestinian cross-border worker receives his dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre opened at the checkpoint of Meitar, a town of Israel's Southern District. Ilia Yefimovich/dpa

A conspiracy-driven doctor known for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 has been allowed to renew her medical license and continue practicing.

Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Lee Merritt, an orthopedic and spinal surgeon, has appeared on several talk shows and at lecture halls where she has circulated misinformation about COVID-19.

Per NPR:

"Among her claims: that the SARS-CoV2 virus is a genetically engineered bioweapon (the U.S. intelligence community says it's not). And that vaccination dramatically increases the risk of death from COVID (data show an enormous drop in risk for those who take the vaccine). The entire pandemic, she says in public lectures, is a vast global conspiracy to exert social control."

But despite her actions and dangerous rhetoric, she was allowed to renew her medical license back in October. With just a few clicks to answer a series of routine questions, Merritt was able to continue her work.

Now, others are highlighting the big problem: Merritt has been allowed to spread disinformation with no consequences. Imran Ahmed, the CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a group that monitors the spread of vaccine misinformation on the Web, explained the lack of consequences for individuals like Merritt.

"State medical boards, for the main part, have been cozy clubs of people who feel their job is to protect the profession," said Ahmed.

There are also concerns about the dangerous message it conveys.

"Physicians should be held to a higher standard because people are entrusting us with their lives," he said.

Ahmed later added, "If you're a physician in good standing, then you should be able to continue your practice without having to jump through a bunch of hoops. But that is also assuming that the medical board is doing its job."

Ahmed believes the only change will only come if medical boards are more proactive in

"Speeches aren't enough, letters aren't enough, we need action now," he said.

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