The group, allegedly made up of doctors, mimicked the claims of similar European and Latin American movements. The president of the Puerto Rico College of Physicians and Surgeons urges people to abide by health directives.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—The local medical community is “outraged” by a group called Médicos por la verdad de Puerto Rico (Doctors for the truth of Puerto Rico), that assures COVID-19 measures imposed by the government are intended to control the population. As of Monday, the local Health Department reported 50,988 positive COVID cases and 622 people hospitalized. But according to them, no emergency exists.
On Nov. 29, the group gathered at the Plaza de la Libertad in Condado, a tourist area, maskless. Many attendees claimed to be doctors and referred to the pandemic as a “political event.”
“This is a global, political event by which [authorities] have declared a pandemic regarding a virus that does exist but has a death risk of .23 to .25%, compared to influenza which has a risk of .89% to 1%,” said Antonio Rodríguez, who described himself as a doctor and lawyer.
Dr. Víctor Ramos, president of the Puerto Rico College of Physicians and Surgeons, said the group lacks a scientific basis. For example, he said that in Puerto Rico, from 2019 to 2020, there has not been a single flu-related death, while the local Health Department reported 1,106 deaths from COVID on Monday. In the United States, the doctor said, 10,000 to 15,000 people die from the flu annually, and the death toll from COVID is at 267,000 as of Monday.
Dr. Ramos said the copycat group is similar to ones in Europe and Latin America.
“Medical colleges have been quite vocal against these groups because, after educating the public, the groups destroy what has been done,” Dr. Ramos said. “In Spain and Argentina, doctors who started a similar group had their licenses revoked. In this local group, many of the participants are foreigners.”
Ramos, who is a pediatrician, said members of the group have not dealt with admitting COVID patients to hospitals or the sadness of deceased patients’ relatives. The doctor said he has seen “severely ill” children and adults.
“In Puerto Rico, we’ve had children as young as age 4 with severe COVID. Worldwide, the youngest patient to die was six weeks old. In Puerto Rico, children age 13 and 16 have died—so anyone can get severe COVID,” said the expert.
On the island, health professionals have been infected by the pandemic. Currently, 135 doctors have had the novel virus. Twelve doctors are hospitalized without ventilators. Ten doctors, 11 nurses, two respiratory therapists, and a paramedic have died, Ramos said.
The president of the doctors’ college said his institution will evaluate if any action will be taken against doctors who are part of the copycat group, spread misinformation, or who violated the ethical canon.
Dr. Ramos asked the public to continue taking precautionary measures. The doctor said the “prompt arrival” of the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel.
“If people don’t take measures many will be infected, and more people will die,” he said. “You don’t want to celebrate this Christmas and never celebrate the holidays again because a relative died after you had a party. There will be no more Christmas for you,” the health professional stated.