14 Dec 2021

Covid-19 misinformation probe: Three doctors suspended from practising

9:48 pm on 14 December 2021

Three doctors have had their practising certificates suspended as they are investigated for spreading Covid-19 misinformation.

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Photo: Unsplash / Hush Naidoo Jade

The medical council said Dr Peter Canaday, Dr Emanuel Garcia, and Dr Matthew Shelton are unable to practise while they were investigated.

Council chair Dr Curtis Walker said there was no place for anti-vaccine messages in a medical professional's practise, or on their social media.

He said the council took the matter incredibly seriously and acted after it was informed about the doctors.

The trio have appealed the council's decision to the District Court - their appeals are due to be heard next year.

Dr Canaday, a former radiologist at the Taranaki District Health Board, was accused of spreading misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine in online videos, sparking an investigation, Newshub reported.

Meanwhile, Dr Emanuel Garcia's promotion of misinformation around the vaccine saw the Wellington psychiatrist condemned by mental health workers.

And Wellington GP Dr Matthew Shelton was criticised after airing misinformation about the Pfizer vaccine's effects on Peter Williams' MediaWorks Magic Talk show earlier this year.

The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, which offers high protection against the virus, has been clinically proven to reduce people's chances of contracting the coronavirus.

Vaccinated people are about 75 percent less likely than unvaccinated people to develop a Covid-19 infection if exposed, and over 90 percent less likely to develop severe disease.

New Zealand Medical Council chair Dr Curtis Walker said there was no place for anti-vaccine messages in a medical professional's practice or on their social media.

"Council expects doctors to be aware of, and comply with, its published standards of clinical and ethical practice," he said in a statement.

"The Medical Council takes these matters very seriously, and steps in as early as possible when a notification is made, or information comes to light, to put in place any necessary arrangements if it considers that the doctor poses a risk of harm to the public, or if an interim measure is appropriate pending an investigation."

Dr Walker said an investigation into a doctor was sparked if the council had reasonable doubts over their professional conduct or if they did not comply with the council's standards.