(CMR) A Brazilian doctor has been accused of trading social media subscriptions and likes for medicines that have not been proven safe or effective against COVID-19.
Dr. Albert Dickson, an ophthalmologist in Brazil's north-east region, offers prospective patients free consultations and has been prescribing medicines against the virus if they subscribe to his YouTube Channel, BBC reported.
Patients who BBC News interviewed said Dr. Dickson also encouraged them to follow him on Instagram.
“How are you going to be entitled to the consultation? You will subscribe to our channel… You will make a screenshot and send it to my WhatsApp. When you send it, you will start to have access,” he reportedly said in a video published on Facebook in March.
In his consultations, he prescribes drugs such as ivermectin, a treatment for lice and scabies, which he and others say prevents COVID-19. However, several leading health authorities said there's no evidence to back up those claims.
Dickson, however, claimed to be above all doctors in Brazil and said the Federal Council of Medicine in Brazil, which regulates doctors, gives him the right to “medicate against COVID-19”.
He also claimed it was not mandatory to subscribe to his YouTube channel and said persons who have not subscribed still receive the virtual consultation, which is free.
In addition to being an ophthalmologist, Dr. Dickson is a Brazilian state representative from the minor Pros party.
His YouTube channel has more than 200,000 subscribers. He has over 140,000 followers on two Instagram profiles, along with 50,000 on Facebook.
YouTube told BBC Brazil that, under a new rule, it had removed 12 of the doctor's videos for spreading medical disinformation, such as stating there is a guaranteed cure for Covid and recommending the use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. However, the channel itself was not taken down because the videos had been published before 12 April, when the new rule came into force.