Consumed by conspiracy theories claiming that doctors are preventing unvaccinated patients from receiving miracle cures or are even killing them on purpose, some people in anti-vaccine and pro-ivermectin Facebook groups are telling those with Covid-19 to stay away from hospitals and instead try increasingly dangerous at-home treatments, according to posts seen by NBC News over the past few weeks.
The messages represent an escalation in the mistrust of medical professionals in groups that have sprung up in recent months on social media platforms, which have tried to crack down on Covid misinformation. And it’s something that some doctors say they’re seeing manifest in their hospitals as they have filled up because of the most recent delta variant wave.
Others are turning away from hospitals altogether. In recent weeks, some anti-vaccine Facebook groups and conspiracy theory influencers on the encrypted messaging app Telegram have offered instructions on how to get family members released from the hospital, usually by insisting they be transferred into hospice care, and have recorded those they’ve successfully removed from hospitals for viral videos.