Doctors and scientists in France are calling on authorities to act on measures to protect them from insults and death threats unleashed upon them by conspiracy theorists. On Tuesday, a union of medical practitioners called UFMLS, headed by a physician named Jerome Marty said they have been living in fear for their lives with some of them even hiring bodyguards.

According to the ABC News, Marty said doctors and other medical professionals have been receiving regular death threats on social media platforms, by email, telephone and even by post. They expressed fear that these threats could stem from conspiracy theorists taking action against all medical practitioners. They said that continued silence of authorities may put them in danger.

As it is, thousands of French citizens are opposed to health passes that are required to access restaurants, cafes and other gathering spots. A good number of them are also not supporting COVID-19 vaccinations as they regularly hold weekend rallies and marches in cities around France.

Marty, along with other medical colleagues who claimed these threats are triggered said these threats could be coming from individuals who are being “manipulated.” The biggest fear they face is knowing that any one of their doctors, nurses and scientists fighting against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could one day end up at the mercy of someone who suddenly decides to take matters into their own hands and attack them.

Verbal threats are a common experience for this group of medical professionals who are often in the public eye when they appear on television to update French residents on their country’s current state amid the COVID-19 crisis.

One notable concerning threat directed at a doctor read, “And the bullet in your head that I’m going to plant, how are you going to stop it?” A note containing scribblings of vulgar insults and a disturbing threat was also handed to Karine Lacombe, the head of infectious diseases at a Paris’ Saint Antoine Hospital which said, “We’ve been following you for a while: car, house, route, garbage is destroyed.”

An anaesthetist in Metz, Damien Barraud, has publicly denounced COVID-19 conspiracy theories on his social media citing the first threat he received was in April 2020 and that this has since been getting more serious.

The concerning threats has increased after the daily France Soir published an unsigned commentary which named doctors and scientists participating in the fight against COVID-19. The said French daily is a publication that is known to have given voice to COVID-19 naysayers and doubters. 

Nurses and doctors work in the Covid-19 ICU in France Representationnal image. Photo by Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images