Dr. Drew apologizes for downplaying coronavirus in medical videos: 'I got it wrong'

Celebrity physician Dr. Drew has apologized for a series of statements he made in a recent video in which he downplayed the novel coronavirus and suggested the reaction to the virus was a “press-induced panic.”

“I wish I had gotten it right, but I got it wrong,” Drew said in a video posted over the weekend.

Drew’s apology came after a video made the rounds on the internet with clips from a series of appearances he made over a two-month period downplaying the seriousness of the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 76,000 people worldwide as of Monday.

The World Health Organization declared the current outbreak of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus disease, a global pandemic on March 11.

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The video was posted from an account called DroopsDr and features clips of Drew on his online show Ask Dr. Drew, his podcast Dr. Drew After Dark and other media appearances.

The 61-year-old media personality repeatedly suggested the novel coronavirus disease would be not as bad as the flu, at one point saying the probability of dying of the novel coronavirus was lower than being hit by an asteroid.

On KTLA-TV on March 2, Drew, who frequently appears on MTV series Teen Mom, said he was angry about the “press-induced panic” caused by the virus and COVID-19.

In his apology, Drew said that he was “part of a chorus” comparing COVID-19 to the flu. He said he didn’t understand the ferocity of the illness and had been primarily looking at the number of influenza cases.

Drew directed his followers toward the guidance of Dr. Anthony Fauci and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

“My early comments about equating coronavirus and influenza were wrong,” Drew said in a video on Twitter. “They were incorrect. I was part of a chorus that was saying that, and we were wrong.”

Drew continued: “I want to apologize for that. I wish I got it right but I got it wrong. What I did not get wrong was, every time I took a position, I always said make sure you listen to Dr. Fauci because he is the person we must look to. He was my guiding star during the AIDS epidemic and he should be your north star now.

“I was wrong about comparing influenza and coronavirus… I shouldn’t be comparing the epidemics,” he added. “I was comparing the numbers… but I want to be clear that I apologize for getting it wrong.”

Drew said that he’s been doing “two hours of media a day, changing my perspective in such a way as to sign on for the aggressive measures we are taking.”

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“My heart and soul is with New York City, which is where I spend a lot of my time,” Drew continued. “I will find a way back there if they need me; I will go.”

Drew said his family has been receiving “lots of threats” and they are now hiding at an unknown location that doesn’t have the best internet connection.

“We are getting lots of threats, my family is getting threats. I would please ask that these stop,” Drew said. “This is a time for collective effort, not time for scapegoating, and if there is more to be done, I will do it.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

— With files from the Associated Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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