Doctor writes of ‘outrage or denial’ from Covid patients
A leading emergency room doctor has slammed Fox News for spreading dangerous anti-vaccine disinformation that he says is fuelling Covid denialism and causing sick patients to refuse treatment.
In an opinion piece for NBCNews.com, Dr Rob Davidson said he blamed “Fox News and other right-wing media outlets for poisoning the minds of millions of Americans with the deceptive propaganda they spray into living rooms 24/7”.
Mr Davidson, an ER physician from western Michigan and also the executive director of the Committee to Protect Health Care, singled out Fox primetime hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity for causing the current surge in cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant.
He said patients who presented with severe Covid-19 symptoms at his hospital were often declining treatment, and would not even take basic steps to protect their family members from infection such as self-isolating or wearing a mask.
“When we tell some patients and their family of a positive Covid-19 diagnosis, the response we get too many times is anger, outrage or denial,” Mr Davidson wrote.
On Monday, Fox News did tell viewers that “the vaccines work” and shared the federal government’s vaccine website that offers information on the shots’ efficacy, safety and availability.
Mr Davidson’s warnings came as current and former health officials say the Delta variant is the most infectious of any of the Covid strains, and anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated is at risk of falling gravely ill from it.
“For most people who get this Delta variant, it’s going to be the most serious virus that they get in their lifetime in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital,” Scott Gotlieb, the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, told CBS’ Face The Nation on Sunday.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the seven-day rolling average of 26,306 cases across the United States is up 69.3 per cent from the previous week.
Most new cases are attributed to the Delta variant, and young people and those without any underlying conditions are susceptible to becoming seriously ill.
The US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy said on Sunday that vaccinated people who contract the Delta variant are only likely to suffer a mild or asymptomatic infection.
But as of Monday morning, just 48.6 per cent of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 56 per cent have had at least one jab, according to the CDC.
In Los Angeles County, Covid-19 cases have surged by 300 percent since 4 July, leading to officials reimposing an indoor mask mandate.
Dr Murthy told ABC’s This Week that other counties experiencing sharp increases in cases of Covid-19 should also look at reinstating the compulsory mask use in large crowds and indoor settings.
Writing for NBCNews.com, Dr Davidson said he was hearing from medical professionals all over the country that Covid denialism was rampant among those seeking treatment.
“But even as medical professionals like us plead with people to get vaccinated, we see resistance, even hostility, flaring.”
When community groups in his “conservative stronghold” of western Michigan recruited local Republican leaders to encourage their voters to get vaccinated, Mr Davidson said the attempt at outreach was met with death threats.
He implored people to listen to the advice of health professionals rather than right-wing propagandists.
“What’s truly tragic is that the disinformation my patients and their families hear from their favorite commentators and pundits is dangerously, life-threateningly wrong,” Davidson writes.
“They should listen to their family doctors for medical advice, not Sean Hannity – whomresearchers have connected to higher infection rates – or Tucker Carlson, whosuggested with zero evidence that Covid-19 vaccines don’t work.”