Alaska doctors seek COVID-19 misinformation investigation

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska doctors plan to ask the State Medical Board to investigate concerns about the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments by other physicians.

Merijeanne Moore, a private practice psychiatrist, said she drafted the letter out of concern over an event about COVID-19 treatments that featured prominent vaccine skeptics in Anchorage last month, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Moore said Saturday that nearly 100 doctors had signed the letter and more could before she plans to submit the letter on Tuesday.

“We are writing out of concern that medical misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine and treatment is being spread in Alaska, including by physicians,” the letter stated.

The letter added: “We hope that you will investigate this seriously, as the spread of misinformation has been identified as a threat to public health by the US Surgeon General, the Alaska Chief Medical Officer, and three medical specialty boards.”

An “Alaska Early Treatment Medical Summit” last month featured doctors, mostly from other states, who have been criticized within the medical community for questioning the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and for advocating treatments with drugs such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it has not authorized or approved ivermectin for use in preventing or treating COVID-19. The agency last year also said hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were unlikely to be effective in treating the coronavirus.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that two Anchorage doctors spoke at the event. The letter circulated by Moore called local doctors’ involvement in the event a “grave concern.”

Moore said she believed “it is the job of the medical board to investigate” claims that were made at the summit.

The State Medical Board is next set to meet on Friday.

There have been calls nationally for state boards to discipline medical professionals who spread misinformation or disinformation during the pandemic.

The Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing issued an “informational statement” along with the State Medical Board on Monday, stating that licensing boards “may only act on violations of state laws.” It also says the division “cannot launch an investigation against a professional licensee without a complaint being filed against a specific provider or providers.”