Almost 6,000 people have signed a petition calling for Dr Anne McCloskey, a GP who was suspended after posting a video expressing opposition to Covid-19 vaccines, to be reinstated.
The petition gathered thousands of signatures within hours. Dr McCloskey, a well-known and popular GP in Derry, had just retired when Covid-19 hit, and came out of retirement to work during the crisis.
In a video posted to social media, the GP was critical of Covid-19 vaccines, and said that she was alarmed at how many patients she was seeing with side-effects after getting the jab. She also questioned the approval of the vaccine and the drive to vaccinate young people, claiming there was not enough evidence that it was safe for use in that cohort.
The GP was suspended by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) over her comments. The Board said that: “The HSCB can confirm that it has suspended Dr McCloskey as a precautionary measure while it undertakes a full investigation regarding complaints and concerns raised against this doctor. They added that “Dr McCloskey is not free to work for HSC organisations during her suspension.”
Callin Canning, who launched the petition on Change.org said: “When a Doctor speaks, they are suspended from their position. Why? Why are voices being silenced? Has Freedom of speech been outlawed completely?”
Many of those signing also took issue with what they believed to be an attack on freedom of speech – including some who had received the vaccine.
“I’m signing this petition to reinstate the Doctor as I believe that there are always two sides to every debate but so far only Big Pharma’s has been put forward time and time again with no opposition,” said one supporter.
“She is only telling us what she has experienced while working. She came out of retirement to help and this is how she is rewarded!” said another.
Others who signed said that Dr McCloskey was “adored” in her community for her work as a GP for decades, while some said that they believed it was wrong for the Derry doctor to be “silenced”.
The Chief Medical Officer in Northern Ireland said yesterday that he was “personally appalled” by the comments made in the video by Dr McCloskey. Dr Michael McBride said he welcomed the investigation and said the evidence on the effectiveness of the vaccines was “irrefutable”.
However, Dr McCloskey told the Belfast Telegraph that she was “distressed” at what she was seeing in her patients and she did not regret making the video. She said she posted her views on social media becaus“as a scientist and a practising physician, I am very concerned about the safety of young people”
“Everything I said is with the patient’s interest at heart,” she told the paper. “I am not sleeping at night [from] thinking about what is happening to our young people. I stand by what I said.”