Dr. Mehmet Oz was the subject of much ire online after appearing on “The Sean Hannity Show” to talk about the coronavirus and making some bold suggestions about how life can return to normal.
The doctor and TV star told host Sean Hannity that he thinks “schools are a very appetizing opportunity” in the efforts to allow the United States to get our “mojo back.”
“I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2-3%, in terms of total mortality,” explained Oz, referencing a percentage that suggests thousands could potentially die. As of Thursday, there are more than 600,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., and more than 26,000 deaths. Worldwide, more than 140,000 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins university.
“Any, you know, any life is a life lost, but to get every child back into a school where they’re safely being educated, being fed, and making the most out of their lives, with the theoretical risk on the back side. That might be a tradeoff some folks would consider.”
The Lancet piece Oz was likely referencing was published last week and cites a United Kingdom study concluding that school closures in the U.K. “will reduce COVID-19 deaths by only 2-4%.”
Oz’s interpretation of the study appears to suggest that the benefit of reducing overall projected coronavirus deaths by a small margin may not be comparable to the benefits of sending students back to school. However, according to modeling by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, that small percentage added to the projected deaths accounts for thousands of lives being lost.
Many were outraged by Oz’s thoughts, with some incorrectly interpreting the remarks to mean that he was being blasé about the death of children.
Thursday evening, Oz said on Twitter that he “misspoke” and that it was not his “intention” to upset people.
Also on Thursday, Oz talked to “Fox & Friends” about Boston University closing down for the fall semester and how it “really bothered” him.
“I learned that Boston University canceled its fall semester. That really bothered me. How do you know right now in April ― before you even tried to reopen ― if you need to close down your school through the rest of this calendar year?” he said, adding that while he thinks they are “trying to do the right thing,” closing the school down “is not the right thing” for everyone.
“You’re hurting people that you’re responsible for,” he said. “I am a doctor. I want you to be safer ― I want you to err on the side of being overly cautious, but not at the expense of making decisions that don’t really serve us.”
The controversial comments come amid new reports that Fox News is lawyering up. According to Vanity Fair, Fox News is “bracing for a litany of public-interest lawsuits and letters of condemnation for pedaling misinformation for weeks prior to coronavirus’s explosion in the U.S.”
This article has been updated to include Dr. Oz’s Twitter message that he misspoke.