Surgeon General Immediately Warns Viewers Against Trying Malaria Drug Treatment For Coronavirus After Dr. Oz Tells Fox Viewers He's Testing It

TV host Dr. Mehmet Oz touted a "game-changer" drug combination as a potential "treatment" for the coronavirus Monday on Fox & Friends, and less than an hour later on the program, the U.S. Surgeon General warned viewers against seeking dubious remedies.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams appeared on the Fox News morning show after Oz did, and criticized co-host Steve Doocy and the daytime TV doctor for promoting coronavirus "treatments" that are clinically untested in the United States. Earlier in the program, Oz, who is also a Columbia University professor, gushed over a French doctor's recent tests that used a malaria treatment, a hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combination, in hopes of finding a coronavirus treatment. Adams warned Doocy and Fox News viewers to stop talking about pursuing treatments and vaccines and to start talking about halting the current spread of COVID-19.

Fox & Friends co-host Doocy asked the Surgeon General Monday: "We had Dr. Oz on at the top of this hour and what he talked about was how promising he thinks a malaria drug—when used in concert with Z-pack—how a French doctor treated 36 people and their viral level all went from 100 down to zero in just five or six days. He said his biggest problem right now, and he's starting his own clinical trials right now at Columbia, he worries that we don't have enough pills yet in this country if that works."

"Here's the thing about those drugs: there is "may" and there is "actually does,'" replied Surgeon General Adams, who began his tenure in September 2017 under President Trump. "So, these may be promising and we'd try to make them as available as possible to people across the country but we have to verify through studies across the country that they actually work. But I also again want to go back to the fact—it's not practical to think we're going to treat our way out of this problem with new drugs, more ventilators and more supplies."

Asked about Dr. Oz's promotion of an unproven coronavirus treatment, the Surgeon General replies that "it's not practical to think that we're going to treat our way out of this problem with new drugs ... we need to lower demand" for treatments with social distancing.

— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) March 23, 2020

Preliminary tests of the anti-malaria drug combination were touted by President Donald Trump during a White House press briefing last week as "very, very encouraging. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top expert on infectious diseases, contradicted him just minutes later at the same podium saying "the answer is no and the evidence that you're talking about is anecdotal evidence." Oz said on Fox News Monday morning that while some French cities are "moving forward without clinical trials," they can't be legally replicated in the U.S.

The Surgeon General also noted his appeals to millennials and Generation Z celebrities for help in promoting self-quarantining.

"We need to lower demand, we need more people talking about staying at home, it's why I reached out to Kylie Jenner last week. It's why my kids say reach out to Loren Gray and Roman Atwood to help these millennials understand they are spreading the virus and the more they spread, the more we're going to need these drugs, the more we're going to need ventilators and masks."

Speaking earlier in the program Monday, Oz promoted his upcoming interview with the French doctor who conducted the tests, Dr. Didier Raoult, professor of medicine at Aix-Marseille University. He also touted his own hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin drug combination tests at Columbia. The Fox News chyron segment was entitled: "Possible drug combo that could shorten coronavirus."

"I read the study and I was stunned, literally my jaw dropped, I didn't know it was possible," Oz said. "He took concepts that the Chinese had been working with and some anecdotal ideas and then constructed this trial. Now, in his mind, this data is so powerful that he doesn't believe a randomized trial is worth it. And in France, some cities are moving forward without clinical trials. However, as a physician and in America, we feel strongly about randomized trials."

"I spent the weekend working with a team at Columbia...and we're going to test if these two drugs—a malaria drug plus Z-pack, basically, can reduce the chance of having a virus that lasts in your body for longer than five days," Oz continued.

Columbia University's Irving Medical Center and Surgery wing did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment Monday morning.

"But this is a game-changer," Oz said. "Because if you can take a combination of two already existing pills, re-purpose them to use for the American public to shorten the amount of time you're infectious and hopefully reduce complications. This becomes more like the flu than coronavirus."

In a segment Oz later aired on his own Fox program Monday, he introduced the potential wonder drug to his audience.

"President Trump started a ripple effect when he touted the potential benefits of the drug hydroxychloroquine, a common anti-malaria drug as a treatment for coronavirus," Oz said.

"And it's shown very encouraging—very, very encouraging—early results," Trump said of the untested drug combination during a press briefing last week, before immediately being rebuked by Dr. Fauci.

surgeon general dr oz fox
TV host Dr. Mehmet Oz touted a clinically unproven drug combination as a potential "treatment" for the coronavirus Monday on Fox & Friends - where less than an hour later the U.S. Surgeon General appeared to warn viewers against seeking such dubious remedies. Screenshot: Bobby Lewis | Twitter

Last Tuesday, Oz appeared in a TMZ video telling Americans that if they are holed up in quarantine with their significant other they should engage in copious amounts of sex as a health measure.

Responding to Dr. Oz and the Surgeon General's differing remarks, Dr. Anand Kumar, a critical care doctor at Winnipeg Health Sciences Center, told the National Post Monday night: "There is the odd study that says these compounds could help, but there are just as many that fail to show any benefit and others that go the other way and suggest potential harm. Absolutely, it should be studied in a randomized trial, I have no problem with that. But the idea that people should start taking chloroquine because it's a game-changer, I think is just nuts, frankly."