This article looks at the coverage of COVID-19 by Dr Mehmet Cengiz Öz, from courageous reporting on early treatment at the beginning of the pandemic, to highly questionable reporting recently on outpatient treatment, on drugs such as Ivermectin and on vaccination.
Dr Mehmet Cengiz Öz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and Columbia University professor, is a celebrity in the US, with his Dr Oz show, focusing on medical issues and personal health, started in 2009, and still going strong. He faced however some significant hiccups, such as promoting Garcinia cambogia for weight loss, which brought him to have to testify at a US Senate hearing on consumer fraud in diet product advertising.
Dr Oz was a prominent media figure in the beginning of the pandemic in the US, as genuinely looking for therapeutic solutions. He was paying lots of attention to the work of Professor Raoult in France, whom he interviewed on several occasions. Dr Oz did several segments on his own show and on news segments on Fox, interviewing medical doctors, patients and researchers.
On April 7, he did a report summarizing an extensive conversation he had with Professor Raoult. He explains the rationale for the hydroxychloroquine / azithromycin therapy, the rationale of isolating sick people, so that they do not spread the virus home. He shares preliminary results of Raoult’s research on over 1,000 patients treated with the therapy. He also takes note of the position of Professor Raoult against placebo randomized controlled trials: “no one wants to do a randomized trial where there is a control group “ … “I don’t know if you would like that either.”
On April 10, he did a segment with Dr Cardillo from the Los Angeles area, explaining how he was treating his higher risk patients with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C. There is lots of attention given to zinc, being presented as a necessary component of the treatment protocol, even if it was not included in Raoult’s protocol until several months later. There is no interview of Dr Zelenko by Dr Oz, but his treatment protocol is clearly being presented in this interview with Dr Cardillo
On April 15th, he did an extensive interview with the late Larry King, and was still pretty upbeat about the use of hydroxychloroquine-based outpatient therapies.
Oz Modifies his Coverage of C19
Progressively, Dr Oz’s coverage of treatments became less substantial, following the intense polarization of hydroxychloroquine from the end of March onwards.
It’s not clear what exactly prompted this reversal by the fame TV celebrity doctor, but maybe segments such as this one by “The Young Turks,” extremely critical of the use of hydroxychloroquine, even if the two presenting journalists have zero clue what they are talking about, played a role.
By that time, there were quite a few medical doctors successfully treating patients, on the front lines, using the Zelenko protocol, but that was not directly covered by Oz. One such medical doctor is Brian Procter, whose results were analyzed in a paper, and show an 86% reduction in the need for hospitalization. Dr Oz could certainly have investigated, visited such medical practices at the time, but he didn’t.
Now let’s jump in time and watch this segment with invited Emergency Room MD Jake Deutsch on February 4 2021. The approach has radically changed. He recommends to stay home, monitor one’s oxygen level with an oximeter, take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for the flu, or even a combination of both, take dextromethorphan for the cough, take vitamin D 1200 IU / day and eat vitamin D rich foods such as salmon, tilapia or mushrooms. No mention of zinc or other supplements, apart from vitamin D, which is recommended in a dose that is usually seen as insufficient. Of course, no mention of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin or even ivermectin. Further on this below.
In terms of early, pre-hospital treatment, Deutsch and Oz don’t clearly recommend you seek advice from your medical doctor. The only therapy they suggest is monoclonal antibody therapy, which progressively became available in the US for those above age 65 and or younger, with qualifying underlying health conditions. This therapy needs to be taken within 3 to 5 days after first symptoms, according to Deutsch, even if the slide used in the show mentions within 10 days.
At some point in the segment, the two hospital level doctors suggest contacting your doctor only to ask for help to get the monoclonal anti-body therapy. You are also suggested the option to contact the pharma companies directly, or to get the info from other web-based resources.
If your oxygen saturation falls below 90%, you are told to go to the hospital’s emergency room.
Note there was a long period during which no clear recommendations for outpatient treatment came from Dr Oz’s show – as monoclonal antibodies became authorized only in November.
Now you are going to ask: what about Ivermectin?
This is a drug used with success since early April 2020 in the US, with which Dr Oz is perfectly familiar with.
No mention of the drug in the segment with Jake Deutsch on early treatment. Dr Oz has not invited to his show any of the experts on Ivermectin, such as Professor Marik and Dr Kory, despite all the buzz generated by the US Senate hearing about early outpatient treatment.
It’s only on February 19 2021 that Ivermectin was covered in a segment titled “New Covid Drugs That Could End The Pandemic For Good,” the two other drugs being colchicine and fluvoxamine.
For this segment, Dr Oz invited a Stanford doctor, Seema Yamin, MD, PhD, who is Director, Research and Education Programs, Stanford Health Communication at Stanford University, and is presented in the segment as a “former CDC disease detective & public health doctor.”
Oz says in the segment that “there is preliminary evidence that it may be effective against the nasty coronavirus.”
Yamin explains: “where we are is looking at this medicine in test tubes and in petri dishes” … “it was used at concentrations of 100 times higher of what normally give to people” … “in the lab context, you can chuck a lot into your petri dish that will kill the virus and you will get very excited … but then you get a closer look and you say ‘oh no’ it’s very toxic …”
While acknowledging that he has heard about the drug for about a year, Oz responds: “Well stated … let’s make the trials, let’s get them done!”
And when it comes to Ivermectin trials, check out how many there are already! And with patients, not with petri dishes!
Remember this segment is dated 19 February 2021, not 19 February 2020!
The results of the Monash research were formally announced on April 3rd 2020, and as we previously covered, medical doctors, including in the US, started treating immediately with this agent and a large body of research now exists on this drug.
You may also want to watch this April 14 2020 report about the use of Oz’s supposedly “petri dish drug” in Florida.
Remember also the recommendation by the NIH about Ivermectin changed from against to neutral on January 14 2021, signalling it’s very much ok to prescribe the drug off-label in the US.
Why such a terrible coverage of Ivermectin and more generally of early outpatient treatment by Dr Oz? We don’t know, even if there are obvious rationale explanations that immediately come to mind. Maybe one day we will know.
What’s clear is that Oz is obviously failing in providing quality up to date information to his viewers, when knowingly referring to research that is about a year old and not mentioning that the drug is widely used internationally and is increasingly being used off-label in the US, with the tacit blessing of NIH.
In case you are not familiar with early outpatient treatment, relying on agents such Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine, Zinc, Doxycycline & others, please watch our webinar with Professor McCullough, who is one of the leaders in this field.
Now what about vaccines?
Oz is unfortunately not faring better with his coverage of vaccines.
There was a segment just days ago, March 4th, titled “How To Figure Out Which Covid Vaccine Is Right For You?”
The segment appeared promising, given that already over 80 million doses have been given in the US, that a third option, by J&J, has been authorized, and that there is now data emerging about actual adverse events and effectiveness.
Yet, Oz, instead of relying on actual real world data about safety and effectiveness, decided to only rely on the Phase 3 trials data. He reiterated the overall effectiveness data from the trial, with 95% for Pfizer, 94% for Moderna, and 67% for J&J.
And he uses as kind of a punch line: “what I think is more important is that no one from any of these clinical trials, for any of these vaccines, was hospitalized or died when he got the vaccine.”
What Oz could have done, and should have done, is to put his research team on the actual data that is now available. What would they have found? Let’s take two examples.
First, if they had visited say on March 3rd the “CDC Wonder” database maintained the CDC, that features the voluntary “Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System” (VAERS), they would have found 403 and 416 deaths reported globally respectively for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – numbers that are most likely an underestimate, given the voluntary nature of this reporting system. That’s obviously a contrast with the zero death in the treatment arms of the trials.
In terms of effectiveness, there is also data emerging, from England, where the effectiveness on the population that is truly at risk, i.e. those above 70 or 80, was estimated on the basis of over 100,000 vaccinated individuals.
The study shows that there remains substantial hospitalization needs even after vaccination. For those over 80, between 7.14% and 9.14% of patients were hospitalized, even when the vaccine first shot was given 14 days or more before. This is about half the hospitalization rate of the unvaccinated group (15.35%).
Regarding deaths, the study shows substantial mortality, of 6.8%, in the vaccinated group, versus 13.13% without vaccination, even when the test date is 14 days or more after the first dose. Just for that trial, there are 165 individuals, aged over 80, who died from C19, despite the vaccination.
If one compares the mortality rates with and without vaccines, during this short period, it’s pretty clear that claims of say 95% effectiveness are pretty misleading for that high-risk population. In actual facts, it looks like for this age group, the protection is more like around 50%.
Now, let’s remember, this is a study done in the UK, where governmental policy dictates there is no outpatient treatment given to those who develop COVID-19. As we have widely reported, quality outpatient care considerably reduces the need for hospitalization, including with old patients with comorbidities, and this is done with extremely safe drugs.
Even if not focusing exclusively on people above 70, the reduction in hospitalization was 84% in the study about Dr Zelenko’s patients, and 88% in the case of Dr Procter’s patients. In both cases, these were risk stratified patients, meaning that only those at high risk, or those with persisting symptoms, received treatment.
From these studies, and conversations with MDs having vast experience with COVID-19, it appears clear that early outpatient treatment would be more effective for this age group than these vaccines, and much less risky too. This is information the viewers of Dr Oz’s show would most likely want to know about. Actually, this is essential information that is not brought to their attention.
During this program, Dr Oz also had a guest expert, member of the Vaccines FDA committee, who recommends something highly contentious, that people who already got COVID-19 should get vaccinated, at least with one shot.
Many medical doctors and experts believe indeed that there is no need to vaccinate those who already have overcome COVID-19. Remember our interview with immunology expert Professor Robert Clancy from Australia, who stressed that getting vaccinated when one has already had the disease is a bad idea.
“Scary and stupid. Especially mRNA vaccines. Asking for trouble!” he said.
What to conclude?
Well, we clearly have had two Dr Oz during this pandemic. The first one was genuinely looking for solutions and helping bring awareness in real time about the research done overseas and experience by frontline doctors treating outpatients.
And then we got Dr Oz 2.0, who, in my opinion, fails to even remotely act as an objective expert journalist. His coverage is actually pretty ridiculous, with as prime example the way Ivermectin, which is used massively in a growing number of countries, and is increasingly used in the US, is presented as a potentially toxic “petri dish drug.”
Here is a suggestion to Dr Oz 2.0: please take a deep breath and have a nice yet profound conversation with Dr Oz 1.0!
Then figure out which one is best for the American people, and change your reporting accordingly. Or stop your show and be just a doctor and treat patients.
In my opinion, Dr Oz 2.0 definitely isn’t worth listening to any longer. His failure to properly cover COVID-19 is clearly much more consequential than his Garcinia cambogia wonder diet fiasco. Today, he seems to be more a part of the problem than of the solution.