Fox News Doctor Calls World Health Organization a 'Bunch of Alarmists' for Warnings About Coronavirus

New York University Professor of Medicine and Fox News contributor Dr. Marc Siegel said Friday on the Fox News program Bill Hemmer Reports that the World Health Organization was a "bunch of alarmists" after their latest statements about the coronavirus.

WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a Tuesday media briefing that "globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected."

"This virus is not SARS, it's not MERS, and it's not influenza," Ghebreyesus clarified. "It is a unique virus with unique characteristics."

At a news conference Friday, Ghebreyesus expressed concern that some governments were underestimating the threat posed by the rapid worldwide spread of coronavirus.

coronavirus
Dr. Marc Siegel told Fox News Friday that the World Health Organization was "a bunch of alarmists" after it announced a global 3.4 percent mortality rate due to coronavirus. Getty

"We are concerned that some countries have not taken this seriously enough or have decided there is nothing they can do," Ghebreyesus said. "We are concerned that in some countries the level of political commitment and the actions that demonstrate that commitment do not match the level of the threat we all face. This is not a drill. This is a time for pulling out all the stops."

Dr. Siegel implied that those comments by the WHO were disproportionate to the actual threat.

"They are a bunch of alarmists," Siegel said. "They are saber rattlers. And look, the statistics they keep throwing out? Death rate 3.4 percent? Let me tell you something. Let's look at South Korea, an organized country where they have been screening everyone, well over 100,000, now over 200,000 people. They found about 6,000 cases."

"Deaths a little bit less than 30," Siegel continued, presumably referring to the U.S. death rate from coronavirus, which currently stands at 15. "That's a 0.7 percent death rate in an organized society with a great health care system. Guess what that reminds me of? Influenza. Maybe slightly more percentage wise than influenza."

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.

"This is a contagious virus, we're concerned about it, we don't have a vaccine for it," Siegel added. "But there's no reason to believe it's actually more problematic or deadly than influenza."

Newsweek reached out to WHO for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

President Donald Trump also had issues with the numbers presented by WHO. In an interview with Sean Hannity Wednesday night on Fox News, Trump said the 3.4 percent mortality rate from coronavirus reported by WHO was a "false number."

"Now, this is just my hunch," Trump said, "but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this and it is very mild."

Trump also said that many individuals who contract coronavirus will not seek medical treatment because "they will get better very rapidly."

"They don't know about the easy cases because the easy cases don't go to the hospital," Trump added. "They don't report to doctors or the hospital in many cases so I think that [3.4 percent] is very high. I think the number, personally, I would say the number is way under one percent."

While the U.S. currently reports 319 total confirmed cases of coronavirus, 15 people have died as a result of the infection. However, 15 U.S. cases are also classified as totally recovered.

Globally, 102,043 coronavirus cases have been confirmed with a death toll of 3,494. The number of recovered individuals, however, is currently 57,599.

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Statista
The chart illustrates the spread of COVID-19 across the U.S. as of March 6. Statista