UCD students pen open letter condemning professor for spreading misinformation about COVID-19

A photo of professor Dolores Cahill alongside an image of COVID-19.

Students in University College Dublin (UCD) have signed a letter condemning statements made by professor Dolores Cahill in which she plays down the risks associated with COVID-19. The students say they are “concerned” by her comments. And they criticise the university authorities for their lack of response to Cahill’s claims. 

The professor made the comments while being interviewed on the YouTube channel of an Irish far-right activist. 

Cahill is also the chair of the Irish Freedom Party. The party is known for its hard-right Eurosceptic policies. Its president, Hermann Kelly, has in the past voiced his belief in the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, a popular talking point amongst the far right.  

Putting the public at risk

In the letter, originally published by the College Tribune, the students write that they were disturbed by Cahill’s comments during the interview. They pointed out that what she said is “inconsistent with current science and epidemiology regarding COVID-19”. 

In fact, the signatories argue that the professor “is sharing biased, non peer reviewed [sic] data with low methodological quality”. And as a result, she is possibly putting the health and safety of the public at risk. 

It’s also pointed out that Cahill is using her position in the UCD School of Medicine to “assert authority on statements” regarding the virus. 

No comment

The students also insist that as future doctors, they have a “responsibility to ensure information or advice is factually accurate, evidence-based, and not misleading”. But misinformation about COVID-19, such as that shared by Cahill, is negatively impacting public health.

UCD authorities are also taken to task in the letter. It’s highlighted that the university has failed to respond to Cahill’s comments or take any action. Given this, it’s suggested that this lack of response “acts as a silent endorsement” of Cahill’s statements. 

 UCD has yet to respond to a request for comment from The Beacon.

COVID-19 as a “propaganda tool”

During her interview on the Computing Forever YouTube channel, Cahill claimed that the virus is not as serious as it seems. She contended that people who become infected with COVID-19 but recover develop a lifelong immunity to it. Cahill also proclaimed that “there is no need for masks” or social distancing.

And she said that the virus is being used “as a fear-mongering propaganda tool.” The reason being in order to restrict people’s rights and “force vaccinations on us”. 

As a result of her comments, she has been asked to resign from her position as vice chair of  the Scientific Committee of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). 

Featured image via Twitter/ Wikipedia – NIAID


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