Unvaccinated Priest Who Thought COVID Pandemic Was a Hoax Ends Up in ICU With the Disease

An unvaccinated priest who came to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic was some kind of hoax or setup has been admitted to an ICU with the disease.

Juan Manuel Fernández Iglesias, 52, is a parish priest from Galicia—an autonomous region in the northwest of Spain—who covers the municipalities of Cerdedo-Cotobade, Ponte Caldelas and A Lama, local media outlet La Voz de Galicia reported.

At the start of the pandemic, Iglesias, who is also a professor of religion at a school in A Lama, strictly adhered to coronavirus restrictions, according to parishioners.

During this period, the priest was careful not to allow people to congregate too closely in his churches, and ensured that a safe distance was maintained between worshippers.

But according to some parishioners, Iglesias began to doubt the existence of the virus and developed concerns regarding other issues related to the pandemic, such as the rollout of mass vaccinations, La Voz de Galicia reported. In the end, the priest decided not to get vaccinated.

Recently, the priest caught the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and his condition worsened to the point where he was admitted to a local hospital and transferred to the ICU, where he remains.

Spain, like several other European nations, is currently in the grip of a large COVID-19 wave as the Omicron variant spreads. Infections have spiked significantly in the past days, with the country's health ministry reporting 99,671 new cases on Tuesday—a new high. Meanwhile, authorities reported 114 new COVID deaths.

Around 80 percent of the Spanish population have been fully vaccinated against the disease.

There are currently more than 9,850 patients being treated for the disease in the country's hospitals. This is an increase of more than 320 people from Monday. Pressure on intensive care units is also rising gradually but hospitals are generally under much less strain than they were during previous waves.

In Galicia, Alberto Nuñez Feijóo, the president of the regional government, said that while the situation is under control in local hospitals for the moment, the incidence of the virus and the test positivity rate are currently both "very high," meaning this could change if current trends are maintained.

"Until today we had not imposed any restrictions on the hospitality industry or in any other sector. We are going to see if we can reduce social interaction without producing very harmful effects in the service sector and in the hospitality industry," he said on Monday, according to Spanish news station Telecinco.

A Catholic priest
Stock image showing a Catholic priest praying. A Spanish priest who came to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic was some kind of hoax or setup has been admitted to an ICU with the disease. iStock