Romanian doctor stirs controversy after claiming Covid treatment is harming patients

A doctor who claims Covid-19 treatment is harming patients has attracted thousands of supporters and made headlines for the past week in Romania.

Pulmonologist Flavia Grosan, from the western city of Oradea, gained national notoriety after a series of controversial statements picked up by the media about the kind of medical treatment virus patients are receiving.

‘Cured 1,000 patients’

The doctor who has a private clinic claimed: “I cured almost a thousand Covid patients with varying forms of severity,” of the illness,” without any hospital stays. She didn’t provide any evidence.

She said she treated the virus as ” atypical pneumonia.”

More controversially she claimed that current treatment of Covid-19 patients was harmful and could result in deaths, and hospitals are making mistakes.

Her headline-generating statements have attracted thousands of supporters on social media and support from ordinary people.

She’s been called „an angel,” and „a goddess” on social media, while someone even suggested she should be health minister.

Anti-system

If her story generates ‘clicks,’ her simplistic statements have resonated with people who distrust the authorities or consider themselves “anti-system.”

News channel Antena 3 has extensively covered the story.

This week, Dr. Grosan was called to the Medics College in Oradea, some 600 kilometers from Bucharest to explain her remarks. Dozens gathered outside for an event that generated widespread media coverage.

Antena 3 talkshow host Mihai Gadea popped up and publicly embraced her for the cameras.

Friendly chat

„Antena 3 presented Flavia Groșan as a heroine, insisting that she was applauded and received flowers after her hearing,” Newsweek Romania reported.

The College hasn’t taken any action against her and said it merely wanted a ‘friendly chat.’

Romanian-born doctor Ion Alexie who is an infectious disease specialist in Las Vegas, congratulated her. However, he questioned how many patients she’d actually cured.

New disease

“She has been fortunate enough to treat patients at a very early (stage). Whether she actually cured 1,000 patients or maybe 500 or maybe 700 is to be welcomed and not judged, especially not in an accusatory manner,” he told Antena 3.

“It’s true we don’t have a perfect protocol,” he said, appealing for flexibility in the way doctors treat patients.

He pointed out that the disease “is very new and it’s permanently changing and everywhere (medics) are looking for the best treatment,” he said.

Monica Pop, the manager of the Eye Hospital in Bucharest, also praised her, saying she had saved patients from developing more serious forms of the disease.

Other colleagues who have questioned not only the content but the reasons for her public statements.

Oxygen levels

One of her claims that has generated debates is the claim that medical oxygen in large quantities causes cerebral edemas. She also controversially claimed that patients with 80% oxygen levels can be treated at home.

A normal level of oxygen is usually 95% or higher. Some people with chronic lung disease  can have normal levels around 90%. Doctors normally advise hospitalization for anyone with less than 90%.

She says she treats patients with clarithromycin, an antibiotic used to treat various bacterial infections including pneumonia.

Protocol

Dr Alexandru Rafila,  a top doctor, said he would opt for “the protocol which is established by the Commission of Infectious Diseases…. Which generally respects most recommendations of EU members and the U.S.”

Dr Rafila was head of the Matei Bals National Institute for Infectious Diseases before he was elected to Parliament.

The head of the Emergency Services, Raed Arafat, urged people „to be careful where they get their information from,” because „lives can be put in danger.”

Disparaging comments

Questions also emerged about her motives after she posted disparaging comments about tennis star Simona Halep and star athlete Gabriela Szabo who both contracted Covid-19.

They urged people to take the disease seriously and wear masks and respect social distancing.