Coronavirus

Dr Marcus De Brun — Irish Nursing Home Covid-19 Deaths: Deaths of Neglect Inflicted by the State

Marcus De Brun

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Dr Marcus De Brun

Marcus De Brun is an Irish medical doctor, author, and philosopher. Before graduating with a medical degree at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, he also acquired a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Trinity College Dublin and studied science at California State University-Sacramento. He completed his general practitioner training in New Zealand in 2002. From 2016 to 2018, he studied philosophy at University of London. Besides running a family practice in Rush since 2010, Dr De Brun also works in a nursing home with elderly patients. In April of this year, he resigned from the position of elected member of the Irish Medical Council, stating that “the opportunity to provide appropriate guidelines, protocols, sufficient testing, etc, was missed or ignored by [the Minister and his] department, in respect of nursing-home residents”.

In the video clip, he mentions COVID-19 Ireland – A Scientific Approach, a group promoting an evidence-based response to COVID-19, which he is a member of along with some other prominent Irish doctors, such as Prof Jack Lambert, professor in infectious diseases, and doctors Pat Morrissey and Martin Feeley.

Transcript

Marcus De Brun

My name is Marcus De Brun. I’m a GP. I qualified in 2002. I did my GP training in New Zealand where I lived and worked for five years. And I opened up my practice here in Rush in 2010. I went into medicine because I’ve always had an interest in science and always had an interest in nature in particular, and the interface between nature and science to me is perfectly expressed in human medicines.

When COVID arrived in January, February of this year, I was quite interested in this virus. I have an interest in virology. I studied microbiology before I studied medicine. So I was very, very interested in what was happening. What was this disease that was going to be arriving in Ireland.

We were supposed to be preparing for it in January. So when I looked into it and did some reading and did some research and looked into coronaviruses, I found the whole subject matter very intriguing, very interesting.

But the interest kind of changed to being kind of jumping in at the deep end, I suppose, because I was looking after a nursing home at the time. And when the virus arrived in Ireland, it certainly made its presence very much felt in the nursing home where I was working.

A lot of people started to die from the virus. And I was very troubled by that because I thought a lot of what was going on and a lot of the management and how the virus was being managed was particularly bad, if not frighteningly bad. You know, the nursing homes opted to close their doors in February.

And the minister insisted that they keep them open and we couldn’t get PPE. We couldn’t get oxygen tanks. We couldn’t get medicine. You know, the masks, even in the nursing home were disappearing.

Staff were so frightened and so fearful that masks had to be locked up. So things started to fall apart in the nursing home sector, you know, we couldn’t get tests for the patients. We were told that if one patient had it in the nursing home, that we were not allowed to test anybody else. And during this process, once there was a shortage of tests, I was returning to my practice.

And according to the guidelines, I was testing people who I knew didn’t need to be tested, like healthy kids and that, people calling up. So things were being managed very badly and very wrong, and people were dying. And I was very upset by that.

I became very, very alarmed and very, very upset because bad things, very strange things were happening. For example, I’d go to the nursing homes and patients would be arriving from the hospital as the government was trying to NPHET, they were trying to clear out the hospitals. And I didn’t mind that – I had no objection to that. But after a while, as the patients were arriving, I had assumed that they were being tested for COVID.

But when I scratched the surface and when I looked for the test results for these patients who are coming from the hospital for respite care, none of them have been tested. And my patients, the residents at the nursing homes at the nursing home started to die. COVID was essentially tearing through the nursing home. We had 12, 13 people die.

The other nursing home in the town where I work, my colleague looks after that nursing home. They were full. So they had no transfers from the hospital and they had no deaths.

So I was very upset and I was very annoyed that this all started as something that we needed to work together to protect the elderly. But I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t test the residents at the nursing home, or people were being dumped. Residents were being effectively dumped into the nursing home without being tested.

November 11, 2020

“We were told that if one patient had it in the nursing home, that we were not allowed to test anybody else… And according to the guidelines, I was testing people who I knew didn’t need to be tested, like healthy kids”

Dr Marcus De Brun

General Practitioner, Rush Family Practice

And COVID was ripping through this nursing home that I was responsible for and people were dying and I felt effectively abandoned, entirely abandoned by the state, and I felt deeply saddened for the families that I had to speak to. And for the nurses who were working there and dealing with this horrible disease and these horrific deaths and having to speak to family members who couldn’t come in and couldn’t be with their loved ones.

So I really felt morally obligated to say something and to do something. And the only thing I had in my power was I was a member of the Irish Medical Council appointed by minister Harris. So I resigned in attempt to whistleblow what I felt was blatant neglect. When I was given an opportunity to speak with Health Freedom Ireland, I did so with some degree of fear and trepidation about appearing in public before such a big crowd of people, but I felt it was something that I had to do.

And the reason I felt that I had to do it was because I’m a believer in science. And I’m a believer in evidence-based medicine and professor Carl Hennigan of Oxford University in the Department of Evidence-Based Medicine had made his submission to the [inaudible] committee and COVID-19 on the subject of masks, for example. And he’d pointed out and he’d stated, in fact, ethically that mask policy was not evidence-based that class masks, homemade cloth masks, were a health hazard, were bad for people’s health.

And that chimed in with my own practice. I would see people in and out of my practice wearing these dirty masks and having skin infections and dermatitis from these masks and sweating profusely because they’re wearing these homemade masks. And none of that made sense to me, but what professor Hennigan expressed to the COVID-19 committee, that was evidence-based medicine. That was my home turf. That’s science.

So I felt that that message had to be sustained and had to be kept alive and had to be championed or spoke about in some way, you know, so that was one of the reasons that I went. And the second reason that I spoke at the rally was essentially, I felt that the candle has to be kept alive for the people who have died in Irish nursing homes. I firmly believe that they died of neglect and they died terrible deaths, and those people deserve a full public inquiry. And it was for those two reasons that I went to the rally.

The government wants to tell us that these people were looked after, that these were mistakes that happened everywhere. I’m sorry, that’s not true. On Planet Earth, next to Canada, Ireland has the highest rate of nursing home deaths in the world. And if that is not enough to allow those people the dignity of a full, independent public inquiry, then we are not living in a democracy.

Speaking at the rally was probably the worst thing I think I could have done for my career as a general practitioner. The damage, I think that it’s done to my reputation amongst my colleagues has been huge. I think I’m looked upon as a right wing lunatic, as some sort of a fanatic or certainly entirely marginalized.

I was the first person, the first doctor, I think, in Ireland to speak out about what was going on when I resigned my position in respective the nursing homes. And I don’t say that with any degree of kind of real pride. I spoke out in the hope that it would be a whistleblow, that something would happen, that things would change, that my colleagues would speak up, that others would come online, but I was sadly mistaken.

November 11, 2020

“the candle has to be kept alive for the people who have died in Irish nursing homes. I firmly believe that they died of neglect and they died terrible deaths”

Dr Marcus De Brun

General Practitioner, Rush Family Practice

And that didn’t happen. And it’s to a certain degree perhaps happening now, but it certainly didn’t happen then. So at the time it was very, very damaging to my career. My reputation, you know, I was the subject of an investigation by the Medical Council. I was threatened to be struck off if I kept speaking out or exercising my public opinion, reiterating professor Hennigan or the other evidence-based medicine. So it became very, very surreal.

You know, I read in the paper following the, you know, I constantly am thinking that eventually somebody else, other people are going to stand up and say, what happened in the nursing homes was wrong. That those people deserve a public inquiry. But that wasn’t happening. You know, the Irish Times, the day after the protest, there was some 5, 7 thousand people perhaps at the protest.

And, you know, the newspapers came out and said there was a couple of hundred people there, and most of them were right-wing fanatics and lunatics. And nothing about the message about the nursing home victims, the people who died, about masks, about NPHET, about policy, none of that message was carrying through. So I was in this bizarre situation where, what I was saying had no relevance, whatever. And what was being considered was the other people who were at the protest or other things that were going on in society that I had no interest in and nothing to do with.

I was certainly alone in my opinions when I resigned from the Irish Medical Council back in March, April of this year. But I think I understand why I was alone because everybody was fearful. Not so much fearful of consequence for speaking out, but fearful of the virus and fearful of what it might do and what it, what would happen to our society.

I mean, we all saw those horrible videos of what was going on in Malmo [sic: Milan] in Italy. And I think that certainly has polarized the fear that still is ongoing in our society. But I was the first to speak out and I did feel alone at, at that time for those reasons, but things have changed now and other doctors are starting to speak out. Dr. Martin Feeley, who was fired for speaking out, has come forward.

Pat Morrissey speaking out. There are many doctors now who are speaking out, who are questioning the guidelines, the narrative, and questioning the presence or absence of natural science and a respect for nature and respect for natural science in this process. I mean, this is a virus that is a novel virus, but it’s a virus that behaves like other flu, cold, nasty viruses. It has a natural evolution. So doctors are starting to speak out. There is a group called covidrecovery.ie that I’m part of and other doctors are part of, and we’re trying to speak out as much as we can, but it’s a dangerous place. Medicine can be very dangerous if you raise your head above the parapet.

November 11, 2020

“The damage, I think that it’s done to my reputation amongst my colleagues has been huge. I think I’m looked upon as a right wing lunatic”

Dr Marcus De Brun

General Practitioner, Rush Family Practice

A lot of people are being hurt by the lockdown. And we’ve all heard the usual speak about the economy and about how people’s jobs and the harm that the lockdown is doing. On a personal level, as a GP, I see that harm every day. I see people whose identity has been taken away – musicians, theaters, actors, you know, all of these things shut down our culture, our identity shut down. You know, the harm that lockdown is doing is infinitely greater in my opinion than any benefits that might come out of the lockdown.

I think at the end of the day, in reality, what we have is, we have a virus that’s in every county, in Ireland at the moment. So we have by proxy, the Swedish approach anyway, regardless of what HPHET and the government is doing. We have a virus that’s spreading, and we have natural immunity building within the community, regardless of lockdowns and policy.

It’s difficult to be positive when you’re in the eye of the storm. And it’s very difficult to be positive when you have children because you’re always worried about them and you worry about their future. But, you know, one of the things that I’ve enjoyed through all of this that I’ve stayed clued into or connected with is nature and philosophy and reading and art, my inner life.

And I hope that my children will cultivate a rich in our life, and we’ll be true to nature and the environment and themselves and their own integral strengths and abilities. And if COVID makes us focus on those things, when COVID is gone, if we’re stronger internally, artistically, philosophically, if we’re stronger in those senses, then the world will be a better place for my children, I hope.

 

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Copyright Health Freedom Ireland, November 11, 2020

Video credit: David Poland
Protest footage is by Gearóid Murphy

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