The doctor in a COVID-19 disinformation video endorsed by Trump belongs to a fringe group of medics whose founder said the virus is not a major threat

  • Dr Stella Immanuel, whose video promoting an unproven COVID-19 treatment was endorsed by President Trump, is a member of a controversial Tea Party-backed group of medics. 
  • America's Frontline Doctors Group has called for lockdown measures to be lifted and criticized measures taken to slow the spread of the disease. 
  • Founder Dr Simone Gold told the AP in May there is "no scientific basis that the average American should be concerned" about COVID-19. 
  • The group is backed by Tea Party Patriots, a conservative group that has backed protests against lockdown measures. 
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Dr Stella Immanuel, who appeared in a controversial video promoting the unproven COVID-19 treatment hydroxychloroquine, is a member of a group of pro-Trump medics who have for months been pushing misinformation about the virus. 

In the video, shared by President Donald Trump, Immanuel appears before the Supreme Court in Washington DC with other members of America's Frontline Doctors.

The founder of the group has been a vocal critic of measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19, and said in May that most Americans need not worry about it.

In the video, members of the group are seen with GOP Congressman Ralph Norman. They promote the substance as a preventative and a cure for COVID-19, despite the FDA warning that it not a proven COVID-19 treatment and can cause dangerous heart problems in some patients.

Immanuel also questioned the effecitveness of masks as a measure to stop the disease spreading, despite mounting evidence that it is one of the best measures. 

Outlandish claims by Dr Immanuel have since emerged, in which she proposes that sex dreams involving demons cause illnesses and that alien DNA is used in medication, The Daily Beast reported. 

The hydroxychloroquine video was widely shared on social media, with the right-wing populist site Breitbart promoting it.

Tthe president's son, Donald Trump Jr, had his Twitter account temporarily frozen for sharing it, which violated the site's rules against promoting coronavirus misinformation. The video was removed by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. 

The press conference at which the medics spoke was hosted by the Tea Party Patriots, a right-wing nonprofit group which backed protests against lockdown measures in several US states during the first spike in the pandemic. 

The Tea Party Patriots has raised $24 million to support Republican candidates and causes since 2014, reported NBC News.

America's Frontline Doctors was started by Dr Simone Gold, who describes herself as an LA-based "doctor-lawyer". On social media she has for months been arguing against lockdown measures, and appears in the video shared by Trump. 

Back in May the Associated Press reported that the Trump campaign was recruiting medics to argue in favor of reopening the US economy as soon as possible.

At the same time, guidelines drawn up by public health experts called instead for a phased and gradual reopening of the economy to prevent a resurgence of the virus. 

Gold was listed as the first signatory on a May letter by 400 people calling for the economy to reopen.

She told AP at the time there is "no scientific basis that the average American should be concerned" about COVID-19. She denied she working in coordination with the Trump campaign. 

She did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

There have been more than 151,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the US. 

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