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Top public health doctor subjected to abuse over Covid-19 vaccinations

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Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon (File photograph)
Dr. Ayo Oyinloye, the Chief Medical Officer(Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The island’s Chief Medical Officer has faced bizarre allegations he was paid by American billionaires to promote vaccination, he said yesterday.

Ayo Oyinloye added that – “laughably” – he was most recently linked to Jeff Bezos, the founder of online shopping giant Amazon.

Dr Oyinloye said he had been given a warm welcome since he moved to the island about 15 months ago, but that there had been times when he was “accosted in the street”.

He added: “Some people believe I’m being paid to promote vaccinations. I’m being paid by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and I think the last person was Jeff Bezos, who’s apparently paying me to promote vaccination, which is extremely laughable.

“Some people still hold on to those beliefs, which is incredible.”

He added: “The vast majority of my interaction with the public has been very, very good and in many instances absolute strangers stop me on the street to thank me for what I have done, whatever they think I may have done.

“That’s really very helpful.

“But, on several occasions, I have been accosted on the street by people who have been verbally abusive towards me – it’s not really helpful.”

He appealed to members of the public earlier this year not to take out their Covid-19 frustrations on healthcare staff.

Dr Oyinloye said in September that “abuse” had been aimed at health workers “across the board” as teams worked round the clock to tackle a surge in Covid-19 cases.

He added: “My colleagues who work at the call centre constantly receive verbal abuse from people who get frustrated at not having things done their way.

“My colleagues who are at the contact tracing unit constantly tell me about people who are being extremely difficult and extremely abusive towards them on the phone.

“What I want people to understand is that this is a job. Nobody wants to make anybody’s life any more difficult than it is.

“It’s not helpful, when you’re trying to do your job, that people are making it harder by being verbally abusive.”

Dr Oyinloye admitted he tried to avoid situations where he would be “that vulnerable” so was unable to say if his appeals to the public had made a difference.

He added: “I’m hoping that people are more understanding that this is somebody just trying to do their job to the best of their ability.”

Dr Oyinloye said: “I’m very careful about the places I socialise now and I socialise only with friends and trusted people.”

The former public health deputy director and consultant for Swindon Borough Council in England took over as Chief Medical Officer after Cheryl Peek-Ball retired at the end of August last year.

Dr Oyinloye, who trained in Nigeria and the UK, said: “Bermuda has been a very warm, welcoming place, in large parts, for me.”

He added: “It’s been really difficult to find enough space to enjoy the island but I have made some very good friends here who have made sure that I have the right down time.

“I’m friends with a couple of very good sailors, who are teaching me to sail and I’m trying to improve my golf game – but I’m not doing a good job of that.”

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Published December 09, 2021 at 7:56 am (Updated December 09, 2021 at 10:35 am)

Top public health doctor subjected to abuse over Covid-19 vaccinations

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