The media should not promote disinformation under the guise of debate

Professor Karol Sikora, an oncologist at the private Buckingham University, has become a social media star and a regular on TV screens, thanks to his viral tweets. You can see why the “Positive Professor” has developed such a wide fanbase: in an era of death, disease, economic turmoil and suspended freedoms, he offers desperate – often vulnerable – people the one thing they crave most: hope. His formula is simple: contrary to the misery peddled by the doom merchants, the measures strangling our economic and personal lives might actually be unnecessary.

But there is nothing so cruel as false hope, and during a pandemic in which people’s lives depend on adherence to social distancing measures, it can be dangerous. Sikora is not a virologist or an epidemiologist: he is a cancer specialist. That should not preclude him from commenting on coronavirus: newspapers and TV programmes abound with non-specialists discussing the government’s response to the crisis, which is as it should be in a democracy. What matters is that he dissents from the medical consensus on how the virus should be defeated.

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