A meeting was held last Thursday by the UCD School of Medicine to discuss the ongoing controversy of Professor Dolores Cahill’s false and misleading claims surrounding COVID-19. This comes after 133 students in the school signed a 15,000-word letter detailing Cahill’s claims and debunking them through scientific evidence.
The head of UCD’s School of Medicine, Professor Michael Keane, made a statement to academic staff during Thursday’s meeting: “The school of medicine, college of health and agricultural sciences, the Conway Institute and the university, continue to fully support the public health position taken by the Irish Government concerning Covid-19. This includes treatment for COVID-19 patients and societal restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus”
Referring to Cahill’s controversial claims made in a YouTube interview with an alt-right activist, Keane stated: “The views expressed by Prof Dolores Cahill are her own. They do not reflect the position of the school, college, institute or university.” The Conway Institute had begun to face criticism for its refusal to comment on Cahill’s claims before Thursday. They had, until then, refused to respond to both the College Tribune and to the 133 students who brought awareness to the dangers of spreading such misinformation.
The decision of the Conway Institute to disassociate itself from Professor Cahill’s claims has been welcomed on social media by some academics in the UCD School of Medicine. Dr Kevin Byrne, a research scientist in the field of genomics, tweeted “It’s overdue and welcome that the UCD School of Medicine has explicitly disassociated itself from the misinformation being spread by Dolores Cahill. Her conduct is an insult to all our @UCDMedicine colleagues helping fight #COVID19.”
Professor David MacHugh, also a professor of genomics in UCD, took to Twitter to praise the “Exceptional work” of the UCD students who had debunked the misinformation spread by Professor Cahill.
As well as being a lecturer in translational science in UCD, Dolores Cahill is the chairperson of the Irish Freedom Party. The movement proclaims its primary objective is to re-establish the national sovereignty of Ireland and to restore democracy through leaving the EU.
Since her claims have been publicised, Cahill has been asked to step down as the vice-chairperson of the scientific committee of Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a leading EU committee. The European Commission said that her claims on COVID-19, if taken literally, could cause “significant harm”.
Statements made by Dolores Cahill in an interview on May 10th include claims that people are “immune for life” from the virus after 10 days, and that lockdown was unnecessary. She also accused the government of using COVID-19 as a “fear-mongering propaganda tool to try and take rights away from people and to make them more sick and force vaccinations on us.”
Blathnaid Corless – Reporter