Doctors Share Their Most Honest Reactions About COVID-19 Deniers
To be a doctor these days is a thankless job. Not only are they risking their lives, but they are also putting their families and loved ones at risk when they come home from the hospitals. When they demanded better support amid the pandemic, they were castigated and silenced. Doctors are also at the receiving end of aggression from pandemic deniers, who accuse them of creating an elaborate hoax to enrich themselves.
According to Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim, vaccine expert and head of infectious diseases at the Philippine General Hospital, she gets very offended when people say COVID-19 is not real. “I have lost a lot of colleagues to COVID-19. Kung hindi totoo ang COVID-19, why did they die?” Ong-Lim told Esquire Philippines during Summit Media’s Sandwich Sessions.
We are so used to doctors always being compassionate, patient, and understanding, we forget they also have the right to feel angry, hurt, and weak.
We asked doctors to share their most honest reactions on people who say COVID-19 is not real. Their answers offer a rare glimpse of what people never notice about doctors: their humanity.
'I told him, "Kung ‘di ka naniniwala, hubarin mo PPE mo ngayon.’’'
"I used to work in a dialysis facility. One of the dialysis technicians is a guy who spends all day watching conspiracy theories on YouTube, including one that says COVID-19 is not real. So one time, he said, 'Pero doc, ‘di ba ang COVID, hindi naman siya totoo? Plandemic lang siya para ma-control tayo.' I just laughed it off. But then came December 25, Christmas, we were informed that one of our patients died of COVID in a hospital. And I heard the word plandemic again. By that time, I was really pissed. I've been working without hazard pay and we were all exposed so I told him, 'O, so kung ’di ka naniniwala, sige hubarin mo PPE mo ngayon.'" —Dr. Crissa Manalastas, internal medicine
‘Maybe they don't believe in COVID because they're lucky.’
"It's disheartening. Especially when you hear the crazy theories that doctors are just using it to scam people to get their money. COVID is real. We are afraid of it too. Going to work means risking not only yourself but your family as well. We have lost colleagues, friends, and family because of this. Maybe they don't believe in COVID because they're lucky... Lucky enough not to have any friends or family dying of it." —Dr. Rachel Santos, general surgery
‘They have a blind spot in their brains.’
"As for me, I find it incredulous that some people believe that the COVID-19 virus is not real. There is a long line of COVID-19 patients waiting in our hospital here in Angeles. They have to wait in our separate respiratory unit, which is outside our emergency room, for a vacancy on our COVID-19 floor. They spend two to three days or more before getting admitted. These people who believe in the non-existence of COVID-19 virus have a blind spot in their brains until they get infected." —Dr. Raul Limos, radiologist
‘I challenge them to go on just one duty at the COVID ward or ER.’
"As a healthcare professional who sees the situation in hospitals, I feel frustrated and disappointed. There are lots of efforts to raise awareness and yet people tend to dismiss science while endangering those who do. Interestingly, the people who don't believe in COVID-19 are those who haven't seen the hospital scene lately. I challenge them to go on just one duty at the COVID-19 ward or ER. —Ruben P. Macapinlac, general pediatrician
‘They'd rather believe in theories on social media than doctors.’
Disappointed. They’d rather believe someone who hasn’t even been to a hospital than someone who has been on the frontlines since day one. They’d rather believe in theories on social media that don’t have concrete proof than believe experts who have had years of experience and knowledge." —Dr. Kristina D. Campos, general practitioner
‘I can't understand how some people don't believe it.’
"Actually, I had COVID-19 as did my dad. He had severe COVID-19 while I only had mild symptoms. There have been so many patients, colleagues in the medical field, and friends who are non-healthcare workers who have been afflicted. I can't understand how some people don't believe it. People believe what they want to believe, I guess. We wish it wasn't true but it is. I wish everything was back to pre-COVID days but, in the current state, it looks like a faraway dream. —pediatrician from Manila
‘How I wish that they could try to go on duty in a hospital.’
"It’s really frustrating that until now many people don’t believe in COVID-19 despite the increasing number of cases and deaths. How I wish that they could try to go on duty in a hospital to see the real conditions of patients afflicted by the virus and see how the doctors, nurses, and other allied healthcare workers show their passion and do their best work to fight these battles every day.
"I personally experienced having family members who got infected by COVID-19 and one even died because he is older and faced a greater risk. I think people who don’t believe wouldn’t want that experience for themselves. Many young people now tend to ignore all the health protocols from the government and health care professionals because they somehow feel invincible. They think they could be asymptomatic or could have just mild symptoms.
"But still, they are the ones who could pass the virus on to more vulnerable populations. Hopefully, these people would take COVID-19 seriously and do their part in reading facts and not spread fake news which leads to misinformation." —Dr. Michelle Margaret A. Blando, general pediatrician
‘I’d like them to experience the fear, uncertainty, and helplessness.’
"I'd like them to experience the fear, uncertainty, and helplessness that people who have a loved one battling COVID-19 faced. I can't even imagine the pain for doctors to choose who gets to be admitted first...who gets treatment, a ventilator, or whatever first because we lack resources. Super depressing na may namatay na naman... Every day, more than one person ang sinisendan ng condolences. Ang burdening ng work kasi may mga nagpo-positive and need mag-quarantine. Pero kahit gusto mo i-limit ang services, ’di naman okay na mag-suffer ang non-COVID patients din. It really took a toll noong lockdown, eh. A lot came back with worse conditions." —anesthesiologist from Manila
‘To be oblivious to these suffering voices is so insensitive and inhuman.’
"Those people, they act as if they are living under a rock! COVID is hitting so close to home! Personally, I know so many people claimed by COVID—my tita, my cousin, a close friend, a co-intern, mentors/ doctors, parents of friends, and just today, my former high school teacher. We cannot deny the surge of cases lately. I'm a pathologist and I interpret and verify RT-PCR results daily. Beyond each RT-PCR result is a patient, and each patient afflicted by COVID has a story to tell. Every family member who lost a loved one has a story to tell. To be oblivious to these suffering voices is so insensitive and inhuman." —Dr. Mark Anthony Turingan, pathologist
‘I am infuriated.’
"I am infuriated that some people think COVID is a hoax yet they come scrambling to the hospital to be seen when they exhibit the slightest symptom they experience or think they have after watching the news." —Dr. Steven Lopez, Acute Medicine, University Hospital of North Staffordshire
‘I really want them to join me in our COVID-19 wards.’
"I feel disappointed when I hear people not believing in COVID-19! I will not wait until a loved one of mine dies because of the misinformation that people are spreading. I really want them to join me to have a first-hand experience in our COVID-19 wards." —Dr. Nica May V. Villanueva, general pediatrician
‘I would be willing to help if COVID-19 strikes their home.’
"So far, I have not encountered someone claiming that he does not believe in COVID. If for instance, I met one, then I would say to him to remember me because I would be willing to help him and his family once COVID struck their home." —Dr. Dan Robert Mariano, UST Hospital
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