Horse dewormer & cow theft: Sask. premier addresses 'absolutely ridiculous' COVID-19 conspiracy theories
With misinformation about COVID-19 policies and vaccines running rampant on social media, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe took time to debunk some of the conspiracy theories on Thursday.
During a press conference at the Legislative Building, Moe encouraged residents to trust the science behind the vaccines and stop listening to the misinformation.
“I would like Saskatchewan people to maybe step away from the conspiracy theories that are out there and actually have an adult conversation around what is science-based, what actually can work for us as we move forward,” Moe said.
“The evidence is clear, vaccines do work, we look at the evidence, we listen to the doctors, we listen to the experts, stop listening to all the nonsense that is out there on social media.”
Moe addressed two other theories he said he has come across recently, assuring residents that he is not lining his pockets with money from vaccine companies or using emergency orders to rustle cattle.
“This week I read and have been talked to by a number of folks that [said] I’m being paid off by the vaccine makers. Well nothing could be further from the truth,” Moe said.
“The latest emergency order that I signed, there’s a rumour that it’s a plot for myself or the Minister of Health to go out and seize people’s cows. Also not true.”
The theory references the Provincial Emergency Order the government enacted on Sept. 13. The premier clarified that the emergency order is solely in place to assist the overloaded health care system.
“The emergency order is exclusively and only in place so that we are able to direct our healthcare employees to where they’re needed within the system. And when you read the entire emergency order you actually see that ultimately to be the case," Moe said.
Dr. Cory Neudorf, a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, said the controversies and misinformation surrounding COVID-19 prevention and treatments have reached “ridiculous levels.”
“There’s a lot of people who've unfortunately been in a bit of an echo chamber with social media, that you're paying attention to advice of people who aren't really the experts in the field,” Dr. Neudorf said.
“The vaccine is safe. The vaccine is incredibly effective. And there's lots of reasons to get it not just personally, but also for your community right now.”
Moe also touched on the misinformation about the livestock drug invermectin. The dewormer became popular through social media as an alternative COVID-19 cure, despite there being no concrete evidence of it being effective against the virus.
Ivermectin has been around for years, used to fight parasitic infestations most commonly in large animals such as horses or cows.
“If people want to use a horse dewormer to treat COVID-19, I’m not sure about the science behind that,” he said.
Dr. Neudorf said he thinks it is “bizarre” that some people are turning to a veterinary medication instead of the advice of medical professionals when it comes to preventing or treating COVID-19.
“A lot of people are actually trying to take matters into their own hands and they’re ending up poisoning themselves as a result,” Neudorf said.
“We have to use what's been approved and trust our medical professionals that are actually looking at testing out other types of therapies and take their advice as to when it's safe.”
Moe said anyone believing the theories or spreading them are actually “contributing to people dying from COVID-19, by keeping them from getting vaccinated.”
“These are a couple of the conspiracy theories and there’s many more. They’re absolutely ridiculous, and it would be funny, if the consequences weren’t so serious today,” he said.
The premier again added that the rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalization numbers in Saskatchewan is being driven by unvaccinated people.
As of Thursday, 348 are being treated for COVID-19 in hospital, including 78 in intensive care. The province currently has 4,564 active cases.
“We know that the vast majority of new cases or hospitalizations and the pressures on our healthcare system are predominantly unvaccinated people,” Moe said. “This pandemic has been prolonged by unvaccinated people and there’s no reason for it.”
On Thursday, 75 per cent of new COVID-19 cases were in unvaccinated people, with 154 of those recorded in the 0-11 age group. Children under the age of 12 are not currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
With files from CTV News Regina's Taylor Rattray and CTVNews.ca