UK: Doctors to take legal action against GMC over ‘inaction’ on Covid vaccine misinformation

A group of doctors, including some GPs, has begun legal proceedings against the GMC based on what they say is a failure to act on Covid-19 vaccine misinformation.

On Friday, the group, whose members wish to remain anonymous, sent a formal pre-action protocol letter to the GMC, which is a warning that legal action is imminent.

In January, these doctors called on the regulator to investigate Dr Aseem Malhotra’s fitness to practise due to what they claim is his ‘high-profile promotion of misinformation about Covid-19 mRNA vaccines’.

Dr Malhotra, a consultant cardiologist, campaigner and author, has over half a million followers on Twitter, with most recent posts focusing on the Covid vaccine.

The upcoming action, which is led by lawyers from the Good Law Project, is based on the GMC’s refusal to carry out an investigation.

Professor Trish Greenhalgh, a GP and academic in primary care at the University of Oxford who has been in touch with the group, told Pulse the ‘scandal is that the GMC do not think it’s their job to investigate doctors who have massive, massive followings on social media and who fan the flames of disinformation’.

In a letter to the GMC in April, before the group received an official refusal, the doctors argued the regulator ‘is required to investigate whether Dr Malhotra’s fitness to practise is impaired by virtue of his campaign against the Covid-19 vaccine’.

The letter added: ‘Failing to act poses a potential risk to patients and to public trust in both the medical profession and the GMC as regulator.’

Professor Greenhalgh said one of the reasons the GMC has refused is that there is a ‘lack of direct proof linking a particular anti-vax statement with harm to a particular patient’.

She said: ‘The days when the worst thing you could possibly do is take out the wrong kidney are gone. Now because of the way that social media reproduce and amplify statements, round and round and round, they have a reach of millions.

‘So repeated statements of “mRNA vaccines are unsafe, mRNA vaccines cause heart attacks, mRNA vaccines are much worse than getting a disease” – none of those things are true.

‘The problem is you can’t draw a direct line between a particular statement and patient harm. And it’s time to stop thinking that’s necessary.’

The group has been fundraising to help cover the legal costs of a challenge to the GMC, and so far it has raised almost £5,000.

Dr Malhotra said in response: ‘Having been one of the first to take two doses of the Pfizer vaccine and even tackle vaccine hesitancy on Good Morning Britain I had to change my position when the evidence changed in keeping with good medical practice.

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Doctors to take legal action against GMC over ‘inaction’ on Covid vaccine misinformation