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

Drew Pinsky speaks onstage during the 2019 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards presented by Capital One at iHeartRadio Theater on Jan. 18, 2019 in Burbank, Calif. JC Olivera/Getty Images

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.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: The life-and-death decisions doctors face' Coronavirus outbreak: The life-and-death decisions doctors face
Coronavirus outbreak: The life-and-death decisions doctors face – Apr 7, 2020

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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

READ MORE: ’90 Day Fiancé’ spinoff — More than 40 cast members returning in ‘self-quarantine’ series

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Click to play video: 'Experts answer your coronavirus questions, part 9' Experts answer your coronavirus questions, part 9
Experts answer your coronavirus questions, part 9 – Apr 6, 2020

“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.”

Story continues below advertisement

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.”

READ MORE: 6ix9ine released from prison early over coronavirus risk

“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.

Story continues below advertisement

“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.

Story continues below advertisement

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

Sponsored content