Key backers of the QAnon conspiracy theory are carrying out a coordinated campaign against a Northwest Side hospital that has refused to prescribe an unapproved drug to treat one of the group’s followers for COVID-19.
QAnon supporters have in recent days targeted Amita Resurrection Medical Center with a small in-person protest and a flood of phone calls, the hospital confirmed Tuesday.
The supporters are demanding that doctors give a hospitalized ally ivermectin, a medication approved for treating parasites in both humans and animals that has garnered huge interest in recent weeks, with the vaccine-averse increasingly touting it as a groundbreaking coronavirus treatment.
But ivermectin hasn’t been approved for treating the coronavirus, and a hospital spokeswoman on Tuesday confirmed Resurrection doctors aren’t using it for that.
A flyer for a Monday protest at Resurrection explained the female patient had been hospitalized there for two weeks with “Covid pneumonia.” The flyer, circulated on the messaging app Telegram, claimed a doctor who initially agreed to give her ivermectin later backtracked because the hospital sided with public health experts who “do not advise its use in COVID-19 cases.”
L. Lin Wood, an attorney who helped file lawsuits supporting former President Donald Trump’s unfounded voter fraud claims, is among the QAnon faithful who have contacted the staff at Resurrection about her case. He explained in a Telegram post Monday that he called the hospital and insisted to an employee that the woman “had a legal right to try ivermectin.”
“He informed me that ivermectin was not on the Amita protocol and [the woman] would not receive it,” Wood said of the exchange with an employee. “When I tried to respond, he was rude, talked over me, and hung up on me.”
QAnon darling Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser pardoned by Trump after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, also took to Telegram Monday to offer prayers, calling the woman a “friend and patriot.”
The patient didn’t respond to a request for comment. Neither did Wood or Flynn.
Banned from Twitter, both Wood and Flynn have turned to Telegram. Wood’s account on the platform has nearly 815,000 subscribers, while Flynn’s page has over 285,000.
Their involvement in the recent pressure campaign has apparently helped amplify the calls to action targeting Resurrection. On Monday, a small group of people demonstrated outside the hospital, according to Telegram posts.
Olga Solares, a spokeswoman for Amita Health, confirmed she was aware of the coordinated effort, though a brief statement from the hospital didn’t address it directly.
“At AMITA Health, our first priority is the health and safety of our patients. Our physicians and clinicians follow the full guidance of the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] and the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control] in the treatment of COVID-19,” Solares said.
The campaign targeting Resurrection, 7435 W. Talcott Ave., was first reported by Vice.
In some online circles, individuals using ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment have been relegated to meme status amid reports that some were ingesting a paste formulated for horses.
But in more conspiratorial corners of the internet, the drug is dubiously considered a miracle treatment being suppressed by powerful forces. That narrative is apparently attractive to QAnon followers, who believe Trump is battling a cabal of Democratic pedophiles. QAnon also has embraced the anti-vaccine movement.
Although the FDA acknowledges clinical trials are underway assessing ivermectin’s ability to treat and prevent COVID, it hasn’t yet been proven effective or approved to treat the virus. In recent months, poison control centers across the country have reported seeing a massive jump in the number of ivermectin-related cases.
This week, the top U.S. professional groups for doctors and pharmacists appealed for an “immediate end” to the drug’s use outside of research.
“We are urging physicians, pharmacists, and other prescribers — trusted healthcare professionals in their communities — to warn patients against the use of ivermectin outside of FDA-approved indications and guidance,” the American Medical Association and two pharmacist groups said in a statement.
By Tuesday, QAnon adherents targeting Resurrection appeared to be running out of ideas after a few days of outrage.
While some Telegram users called for further demonstrations, there were no apparent protesters outside the hospital Tuesay morning. By then, those in the online community were complaining that calls to Resurrection were leading to a dead-end voice message.
“Even Lin Wood can’t do anything and they hang up on him and it’s amazing to see that,” one user wrote.
Contributing: Associated Press