Fox News host Laura Ingraham had a guest on Monday who told viewers that respiratory disease epidemics, like our current coronavirus pandemic, just go away after two to five weeks and then you don’t need to think about them anymore because everyone is immune. The interview was bizarre, to say the least, even for a network that has been actively spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic for months.
“Respiratory disease epidemics, and this is just one of those, they come and last about two weeks, they peak, they go for about two weeks,” Dr. Knut Wittkowski told Ingraham on Monday night.
“So in a large country it lasts a bit longer, and in a smaller country, a bit shorter. So after three, four, or five weeks, we have immunity and we don’t have to think about it anymore,” Wittkowski continued.
Needless to say, Wittkowski’s comments aren’t backed up by the science, let along basic common sense. The coronavirus pandemic started in Wuhan, China in December of 2019 and has been spreading around the world for at least five months. The U.S. identified its first case of covid-19 in the state of Washington on January 21 and its first death on February 26, but we later learned that a 57-year-old woman who died in Santa Clara County, California on February 6 tested positive for the disease.
The long and the short of it: The U.S. has been suffering from this pandemic for much longer than “five weeks” and every reliable expert believes that it will continue to get worse without reasonable steps to combat the disease.
The U.S. currently has identified over 1.5 million coronavirus cases and at least 90,369 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. But both of those numbers are believed to be a dramatic undercounting of the real problem, according to experts like former FDA head Scott Gottlieb, who has said the actual number of cases is likely 10 to 20 times higher.
Wittkowski also told Ingraham about how YouTube had taken down one of his videos for being filled with misinformation, a claim he rejects, of course. The doctor also said that “there’s no evidence the shutdown had any affect” and insisted that U.S. schools should be wide open, failing to mention that kids are starting to present with nasty inflammatory symptoms after getting covid-19.
Strangely, the text descriptor for Dr. Wittkowski on Fox News, referred to as the chyron, kept changing during the interview to describe him in different ways. Initially he was described as the Rockefeller University “former biostats head,” but was then changed to describe him as the “former epidemiology head,” as you can see from the screenshot below. Whatever you call him, he’s meant to appear like someone who knows what he’s talking about.
Previously, he had been described by some news outlets as a “professor,” but Rockefeller University released a statement last month, as Wittkowski was first getting news attention for his contrarian views, that Wittkowski has never been a professor at Rockefeller University. The university also distanced itself from Wittkowski bizarre opinions on the pandemic.
“The opinions that have been expressed by Knut Wittkowski, discouraging social distancing in order to hasten the development of herd immunity to the novel coronavirus, do not represent the views of The Rockefeller University, its leadership, or its faculty,” the University said in a statement posted online on April 13.
“Wittkowski was previously employed by Rockefeller as a biostatistician. He has never held the title of professor at Rockefeller,” the statement continued.
Wittkowski’s older predictions about the pandemic haven’t aged very well. One interview he gave in early April predicted that the entire epidemic would be over in “four weeks” and roughly 10,000 Americans might die from covid-19, essentially putting it in line with a bad flu season in those four weeks. The current death toll in the U.S. is over 90,000 and rising.
Ingraham has been boosting pandemic denialists for months now. You can watch the entire segment from last night’s program on YouTube, where she encouraged her viewers to “punch back” against the forces that are keeping people at home and social distancing.
“Keep punching back, keep questioning, don’t be afraid. You have a president who wants you to be healthy, who wants you to be prosperous,” Ingraham told viewers. “But most of all, who wants you to be free.”
President Trump, who claimed yesterday that he’d started taking the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine preventatively and previously floated the idea of drinking bleach, wants a lot of things in this world. But a healthy America certainly isn’t one of them.