Over the past few weeks, Dr. Drew Pinsky has been one of many — including the likes of Fox News personalities Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Judge Jeanine Pirro — to downplay the threat of the coronavirus, claiming it’s media hype and that COVID-19 is no more dangerous than the common flu.
While that may have been a feasible talking point a few weeks ago, as the pandemic spreads relentlessly throughout the world those words are coming back to haunt those who initially dismissed COVID-19.
This is especially true for Pinsky, who told The Daily Blast that “the press is overreacting, and it makes me furious… because you’re more likely to die of influenza right now.”
He doubled down in a subsequent interview, pointing to the thousands of deaths that occur each year from the flu, adding, “we have zero deaths from the coronavirus, we have almost no cases. It’s coming here… it’s going to be much more widespread than we knew, it’s going to be much milder than we knew, the 1.7 percent mortality rate is going to fall.”
In another interview, he wrote the whole thing off as “a press-induced panic” and claimed that for anyone under the age of 65 who contracts the virus, “you’re gonna get the flu.”
Journalist Yashar Ali put together a damning supercut of Pinsky’s numerous statements downplaying the severity of the coming pandemic, including his remarks that COVID-19 is “less dangerous than influenza” and that “your probability of dying from coronavirus is much higher than being hit by an asteroid.”
Sadly, reality has proved Pinsky’s views to be utterly and completely wrong, with conservative estimates now predicting between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans will die due to COVID-19.
In light of what’s taken place since, Pinksy is now apologizing for his earlier statements.
“My early comments about equating coronavirus with influenza were wrong. They were incorrect,” Pinsky said in a mea culpa video he posted to social media on Saturday. “I was part of a chorus that was saying that, and we were wrong. And I want to apologize for that.”
“I wish I had gotten it right, but I got it wrong,” he admitted, telling his followers to look to Dr. Anthony Fauci for advice on how to remain safe and healthy throughout the pandemic. “He was my guiding star in the AIDS epidemic and he should be your star now,” added Pinsky.
“I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I wear a mask outside now. And it’s paid dividends. It is improving — it is flattening the curve,” he added. “And I’m delighted to be a part of that. I’m glad to be a part of that.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
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.