Francisco George, Portugal's former director of health and current president of the Cruz Vermelha is leaving the institution after just one mandate - again an unusual situation in itself

Portugal’s medical profession girds itself for battle with respected (‘negationist’) doctor

All hell has (finally) broken loose over comments made 10 days ago at a negationist rally.

The reason is that they were made by internationally respected Portuguese doctor Fernando Nobre – a man who not only stood for the presidency as an Independent in 2011 (doing surprisingly well) but who is the president and founder of NGO Assistência Médica Internacional – a project with the sole focus of ‘helping Humankind’.

Dr Nobre does not fit the ‘mould’ of a pandemic negationist – thus his comments on the steps of parliament have profoundly disturbed his peers (click here).

Gustavo Carona, a specialist in internal medicine at Matosinhos Hospital has told SIC television news’ “Expresso da Meia-Noite” programme that Dr Nobre should be stopped from practicing medicine altogether.

“This is not a question of opinion, this is crime”, he said. “Hospital teams are seeing people die because of these messages…”

Former ‘director general of health’ Francisco George (the previous figurehead of Portugal’s DGS health authority) has challenged Fernando Nobre to a debate on the the Covid-19 vaccines (bearing in mind the latter has vowed he would never give it to his children or grandchildren) – while the General Medical Council has opened a disciplinary process against the 69-year-old, to which he has 15 days to respond.

According to Francisco George, Fernando Nobre’s position (with regard to the pandemic) is “absolutely intolerable”.

No doctor, George has told reporters, should have opinions on vaccines: “We cannot delude the population, particularly appearing as a doctor and saying “I do not recommend the vaccine; I didn’t take the vaccine; I didn’t give it to my children; I will not inject my granddaughter. This is unacceptable because it has no scientific basis”.

George’s criticism however centres on the Covid vaccines being in a similar camp as those against smallpox, hepatitis B – which they clearly aren’t. 

Irrespective of the vaccine technology used, the difference between the Covid vaccines and others administered as part of Portugal’s national vaccination programme is that the Covid vaccines do not stop transmission of the SARS-CoV- 2 virus, nor do they prevent people from becoming infected – and that is the reason why there has been so much controversy surrounding them, particularly as the long-term consequences of having been vaccinated are unknown, and ‘adverse side effects’ are becoming more and more discussed.

In the UK, for example, there have been more than 30,000 reports of women whose menstrual cycles have been affected directly after receiving the three principal Covid vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca).

Admittedly, the reports are a fraction of the millions of doses administered, but they have been enough for scientists to call for ‘further investigation’, if only to put people’s minds at rest (click here).

In Portugal, Infarmed has admitted to 87 women reporting “disturbances to their reproductive system” – again an infinitesimal  proportion of the millions of doses rolled out, but still a ‘talking point’: a question mark that if instantly dismissed as ‘not connected to the vaccine’ could end up back-firing.

For now Fernando Nobre has not addressed the gathering storm.

It doesn’t appear to be his position on the Covid vaccines that is the only reason for all the  ruffled feathers. There is also his dismissal of the value of PCR tests (an old chestnut that has even seen Portuguese judges at risk of disciplinary action click here), and of DGS advice that Covid ‘home care’ should be with “paracetamol, doliprane or ben-u-ron”.

Nobre told the rally two Sundays ago: “You treat (Covid-19) the way I treated myself, my wife and the way I treated my daughter: with azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin. Within a week we were all cured…”

This absolute negation of ‘standard policy’ when it comes to treatment appears to have been ‘the final straw’ – hence the disciplinary process.

But back in March 2020 Miguel Guimarães, president of the General Medical Council was all for at least one of the medications cited by Fernando Nobre.

He told Rádio Renascença: “Apparently, hydroxychloroquine has positive effects on infected patients. Both in terms of recovery and in impeding the worsening of more complicated cases in hospital which might (otherwise) need assisted ventilation; in other words, intensive care treatment”.

Two months later, on advice from the World Health Organisation, Infarmed and the DGS recommended the suspension of the use of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of Covid patients after data questioned its safety and efficiency.

Hydroxychloroquine however has not been suspended for the treatment of other pathologies, which include auto-immune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and malaria.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com