Man Who Lost Whole Family to COVID Had Trolls Trying To Prove They Didn't Exist

A man who lost his whole family to COVID-19 said he has faced serious abuse and threats from online trolls, with some even trying to prove that his relatives didn't exist.

Francis Goncalves, 43, a resident of Cardiff—the capital of Wales in the United Kingdom—buried his brother, father and mother on the same day in August 2021 at a cemetery in Portugal where the relatives lived.

The family members were aged 40, 73 and 65 respectively when they passed away from the disease, which they contracted last summer. The trio had begun feeling sick in July after having a meal together, and all died over the course of a seven-day period—within two weeks of their symptoms appearing.

Shortly after the deaths, Goncalves told WalesOnline that his family members had not received their COVID-19 shots because they had been frightened by anti-vaccination misinformation.

Now, nearly six months later, Goncalves told the outlet that "life hadn't been easy" since the deaths and that he had endured overwhelming online abuse from anti-vaccine trolls that has only made the situation worse.

"There were threats from as far away as Italy, then I had private messages with all sorts of insults from people as far as Australia," Goncalves said. "Literally people from all over the world. There was a lot of negativity and in the initial phases it was overwhelming. You get accused of being fake. People were looking for evidence that my family didn't exist."

"Some people would send me one message and nothing else, others would send me an array of messages or attack my social media feeds."

In some cases, Goncalves said the abuse got so bad that he had to contact the police, although he said many people also expressed their condolences to him.

"It wasn't people who say they don't want the vaccine because it's their choice, it was people who are hardcore against the vaccine and set on spreading misinformation," he said.

The 43-year-old said he had been trying to share factual information on his social media platforms about COVID and vaccinations so that others could make informed decisions about getting their shots and hopefully prevent tragedies in their own families.

"I wanted to give people the information they need to make that decision as opposed to listening to these blatant lies," he said. "The problem is these people are so confident and so loud and people listen to them because they expect people with that confidence to be telling the truth."

An online troll
A generic picture shows a person typing on a computer keyboard. A man who lost his whole family to COVID has spoken out about the abuse he has received from online trolls. iStock