The General Medical Council (GMC), central regulator for medical practice in United Kingdom (UK), has decided indefinite suspension of medical registration of a Pakistan-based surgeon, Mohammad Iqbal Adil, pending full investigation for dubbing the global COVID-19 pandemic as a “hoax”, reported today by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) (see below). The COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the world for the past six months is caused by a novel SARS CoV-2 virus. Although no curative treatment or vaccine is currently available at the present time against COVID-19, most people infected with SARS CoV-2 virus either remain without any symptom or recover completely with proper supportive medical management. However, more than five hundred people have already died globally due to COVID-19 as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) – most of these victims are elderly or had pre-existing conditions. India currently ranks third in the world, only after USA and Brazil, in the number of COVID-19 patients. The country has been in virtual lock down status for the past more than three months.
Ordinary people are naturally confused and scared of COVID-19 for obvious reason and the pandemic is frequently made even worse by widespread misinformation and rumors of magical cure by quacks, unqualified politicians, religious gurus and even ignorant qualified medical doctors. For example, inspired by unsubstantiated claim from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has been widely promoted with the misguided notion that it can prevent or cure COVID-19. PBT has already moved the Apex Court against the reckless use of HCQ in COVID-19 patients. Nothing can be more reckless and unethical when a registered medical practitioner starts claiming that COVID-19 is not a serious disease but a “hoax”. We salute the prompt and pre-emptive action by GMC to suspend the license of Dr. Adil for spreading the rumor that COVID-19 is a “hoax” because it is unethical for any doctor to spread untrue or unscientific rumors about diseases. Unfortunately, medical councils in India have never shown the courage to take meaningful punitive action against the unethical or negligent doctors – instead of protecting the vulnerable patients, medical councils in India have always worked to shield their errant and unethical medical colleagues.