Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Bear bile, vaping, and sunlight: A list of Fox News' supposed COVID-19 cures and treatments

Fox News has attacked the vaccination effort. Here's what the network is promoting instead.

Fox News hosts and guests have repeatedly attacked the COVID-19 vaccination effort and infamously pushed the use of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as therapeutic treatments instead, despite warnings from multiple health agencies against using them as such. 

However, Fox News' list of supposed miracle cures doesn't end with malaria pills and horse dewormer. Fox hosts and guests have promoted a concerning number of possible treatments for COVID-19. Some of these treatments have mixed evidence of viability, such as blood thinners and favipiravir. Others are straight bunk -- Sean Hannity suggested vaping prevents people from getting coronavirus; Rachel Campos-Duffy said the best way to survive COVID-19 was to “be healthy”; Shannon Bream listed bear bile as a possible treatment.

In addition to hyping these treatments for COVID-19, Fox News continues to undermine the COVID-19 vaccines. In particular, Fox hosts refused to recommend the lifesaving vaccines and amplified wild conspiracy theories about them -- despite their safety and effectiveness -- while boosting unproven and potentially dangerous treatments. This two-pronged attack is a familiar strategy in Fox News’ campaign of COVID-19 misinformation and a clear example of the network’s disregard for the endangerment of its viewers. Meanwhile, Fox Corp. instituted vaccine and testing requirements to help keep its employees safe. 

Here’s a list of the many bogus or questionable cures promoted by Fox News:

  • Azithromycin / Zithromax / Z-Pak

  • Azithromycin, the generic version of the brand-name drug Zithromax Z-Pak, is an antibiotic widely used to treat bacterial infections such as pneumonia, ear infections, and sexually transmitted infections. Because of the drug’s anti-inflammatory properties and because of previous lab studies that had shown antiviral activity against Zika virus; rhinoviruses, the viruses that cause the common cold; and other coronaviruses, doctors looked to the drug for a potential treatment for COVID-19. While the Food and Drug Administration requires large-scale, randomized trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of potential treatments, Fox hosts lauded an early nonrandomized study from France with a small sample size that indicated potential beneficial results of treating COVID-19 patients with a drug cocktail including azithromycin. A large, randomized trial that concluded in December 2020, however, found no added benefit of the drug. Another recent outpatient study from the University of California San Francisco found similar results. 

    The National Institutes of Health’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel “recommends against” the use of azithromycin with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Despite a lack of evidence, Fox still spent months touting the drug.

  • Ingraham Angle guest Dr. William Grace boasted that hydroxychloroquine use with Zithromax or azithromycin was “showing tremendous activity” and that not one COVID-19 patient had died after use of the experimental cocktail. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/19/20]

  • After Fox News @ Night guest Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) conceded that a promising study of hydroxychloroquine used in conjunction with azithromycin had a small sample size, anchor Shannon Bream solely emphasized that azithromycin is “readily available” and could “flood the system” if approved. [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 3/19/20]

  • Host Sean Hannity urged his guests Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) and former FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach to rate “how hopeful” they were that drugs like hydroxychloroquine used with Azithromycin are “going to make a difference and work,” on a scale of one to 10. Jackson responded with a 10. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/20/20]

  • Host Laura Ingraham encouraged her audience to dismiss the fact that the promising study on hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was not a “large, controlled study” and to “recogniz[e] the benefits already reported in the use of this drug.” She assured her audience that while “we want everything buttoned up and as perfect as far as randomized trials,” the country’s need for “solutions and hope” would not allow for the standard safeguards. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/20/20]

  • Guest Dr. William Grace touted the effective combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, and host Laura Ingraham described him as on the “forefront of so many different off-label uses of medical technology and medicines, that the experts aren't yet onto.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/20/20]

  • Fox News medical contributor Marc Siegel trumpeted hydroxychloroquine use with Zithromax as “promising” and said that for a “severely ill” patient, there is no risk to trying the drugs as a treatment. [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 3/21/20]

  • Guest Dr. Mehmet Oz dismissed safety concerns about treating patients with hydroxychloroquine and Z-Pak despite lack of FDA approval and limited data on effectiveness. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/23/20]

  • After guest Dr. Jerome Adams noted that there will be a coronavirus vaccine in a year in addition to therapeutics doctors are exploring, Hannity focused on whether Adams would “take hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin if it was you or a family member.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/24/20]

  • Host Laura Ingraham highlighted anecdotal evidence of “actual Americans whose lives were, in their view, in their words, saved after being prescribed that drug combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/24/20]

  • In an interview with then-President Donald Trump, host Sean Hannity asserted that giving the unproven drug cocktail of hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax is “a freedom we should have.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/24/20]

  • Guest and former Kansas governor Dr. Jeff Colyer suggested that states should “drop risk of malpractice” against doctors to free them to use unproven drug cocktails like hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. Ingraham agreed that during “a wartime situation” against the virus, there was no time to ensure the safety of the drug cocktail through randomized, controlled studies. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/26/20]

  • Guest Dr. Mehmet Oz stated that if he tested positive for COVID-19, he would “without thinking about it” take both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/27/20]

  • Host Laura Ingraham claimed that she was “talking to infectious disease doctors every day and from around the world” and “their go-to combo in most patients” is hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/27/20]

  • Tucker Carlson hosted Dr. Mohammed Ariswala and his patient Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett to credit hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a viable COVID-19 treatment for sick patients. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/7/20]

  • Host Sean Hannity noted that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are being used “worldwide” after then-President Donald Trump stated that drug cocktails were a combination “that’s great.” [Fox News, Hannity, 4/7/20]

  • After touting the use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin cocktails as a COVID-19 treatment, guest Dr. Mehmet Oz boasted about reading a “pre-print” of a paper that proved hydroxychloroquine is “safe,” but warned that “combined with other medications like …. azithromycin,” patients should “be more cautious.” [Fox News, Hannity, 4/10/20]

  • Host Laura Ingraham attacked the media and Dr. Fauci for dismissing an early study claiming success with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for treatment against COVID-19 as just “anecdotal” evidence. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 4/13/20]

  • Host Laura Ingraham told her audience that the “key” to hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin efficacy was to take the drug cocktail “early,” and not to “wait until you’re hospitalized.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 5/6/20]

  • Guest Dr. William Grace accused the “mainstream media and many academics” of “playing politics” by not speaking to the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 5/28/20]

  • Guest Dr. Harvey Risch touted a Brazilian study that indicated benefits from taking hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin, but he downplayed the fact it was not randomized and did not state the sample size of the study. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/3/20]

  • Guest Dr. Stephen Smith unequivocally stated that “people have died because they did not get hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin upon coming to the ER.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 7/29/20]

  • Host Laura Ingraham and guest Dr. Stephen Smith dismissed a study indicating a “higher frequency of invasive mechanical ventilation or death” among patients who received hydroxychloroquine as both “inconsistent” with Smith’s anecdotal experience and explained by the fact that patients did not also receive azithromycin. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 10/9/20]

  • Bear bile

  • In March 2020, the Chinese government recommended Tan Re Qing, a traditional Chinese medicine containing bear bile, to treat severe cases of COVID-19. Bear bile contains high levels of ursodeoxycholic acid, which University of Minnesota professor Clifford Steer speculated “may alleviate symptoms of COVID-19 because of its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to calm the immune response.” 

    Steer, who studied the medical benefits of the acid, said there is no known evidence that bear bile is an effective treatment for COVID-19 and concluded what the world needed was a vaccine. In addition, there is a risk of ingesting bile that may be contaminated with blood, feces, pus, urine, and bacteria.

    Despite no evidence stating that bear bile is a viable treatment for COVID-19, it was suggested as such on Fox News.

  • In an introduction for a correspondent segment on possible COVID-19 treatments, Fox anchor Shannon Bream listed bear bile alongside widely used treatments such as Remdesivir. Bream’s correspondent clarified that there is no accepted treatment for COVID-19 but said there are “some experimental treatments that have promise,” and neither he nor Bream clarified that there’s no evidence for using bear bile. [Fox News @ Night, 3/26/20]

  • Blood thinners

  • According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), some people infected with COVID-19 “develop abnormal blood clots.” Anticoagulants, including low-dose aspirin and heparin, have long been used as a blood thinner to reduce high-risk patients’ chance of stroke or heart attack. There have been mixed results as to the effectiveness of treating COVID-19 patients with blood thinners, with three large clinical trials suggesting anticoagulants reduced the need for intubation, while another found no improved outcomes.

    However, a recently released British large-scale randomized clinical trial of nearly 15,000 patients found that “aspirin does not improve survival” for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Clinical trials to gauge the efficacy of blood thinners as a treatment for COVID-19 are still ongoing. Despite the inconclusive results, Fox News hosts, guests, and personalities only touted the success of the drug.

  • Guest Dr. David Reich cited anecdotal evidence from his first-hand experience as a practitioner to suggest benefits of blood thinners in COVID-19 treatments: “There was an association between the use of the blood thinners, and better outcomes in patients who were in a more severe state on ventilators.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/11/20]

  • Host Tucker Carlson and Dr. Marc Siegel discussed President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center. Siegel noted within the list that Trump is taking “aspirin” because “we've had a lot of blood clotting problems with COVID-19.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 10/2/20]

  • Dr. Janette Nesheiwat listed therapeutics thought to be effective against COVID-19: “We have convalescent plasma. We have antivirals. We know that zinc has been shown to help fight this virus from replicating as well as vitamin D and using blood thinners, similar medicines that our president is on.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 10/5/20]

  • Colchicine

  • Colchicine is an FDA-approved anti-inflammatory drug primarily used to reduce inflammation and prevent flares in patients with gout, a type of arthritis that causes flares of joint pain. There is early evidence that when the drug is given early in the course of COVID-19, it can mitigate or prevent inflammation from the disease. 

    A randomized but not yet peer-reviewed study of about 4,500 people diagnosed with COVID-19 suggested that colchicine could cause a slight reduction in deaths and hospitalizations for patients with COVID-19, but the trial failed to reach its desired target enrollment, potentially introducing bias into the study. 

    Another large scale, randomized British study of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 did not find any evidence that colchicine has any effect on clinical outcomes in these patients. While clinical trials are ongoing, the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel states “there is insufficient evidence” to advocate for or against colchicine use in nonhospitalized patients with COVID-19. The Panel recommends against the use of colchicine in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The lack of evidence did not stop frequent The Ingraham Angle guest Dr. Harvey Risch from promoting the success of his personal study that included colchicine.

  • Dr. Harvey Risch touted his study that pushed for the use of unapproved therapeutics, including colchicine: “There's many drugs that can be used as we've seen this week, colchicine is another drug that can be used, favipiravir, ivermectin. There's a whole, now, repertoire, armamentarium of drugs that work in early treatment.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/29/21]

  • Convalescent plasma

  • Convalescent plasma refers to the theory of treating COVID-19 patients with plasma filtered from the blood of donors who have recovered from the virus. On August 23, 2020, just days after the FDA paused an anticipated emergency use authorization of the treatment due to lacking  evidence, then-President Donald Trump announced the authorization anyway. The next day, Trump’s FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn walked back his statement on the benefits of the treatment. 

    Researchers have launched, then halted, trials after failing to find evidence that the treatment benefited patients. In February 2021, the FDA updated the emergency authorization for convalescent plasma to limit use to plasma with a high concentration of antibodies and hospitalized patients early in the disease course. The Infectious Disease Society of America has said it “suggests against” use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 based on “low certainty of evidence.” 

    Fox promoted convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 both before the authorization and after the FDA hesitated in granting it.

  • Anchor Shannon Bream played a clip of a doctor saying on the now-defunct Lou Dobbs Tonight that convalescent plasma “will work.” [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 3/11/20]

  • Host Sean Hannity reported “early indications” of convalescent plasma showed “a dramatic health effect to help people recover.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/20/20]

  • Frequent guest and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz described convalescent plasma as “very promising.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/24/20]

  • Fox medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel explained the treatment as “putting [convalescent plasma] into very sick patients that will possibly keep them from very poor outcomes, including death,” adding that it is an “extremely positive thing.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/25/20]

  • Dr. Mehmet Oz advocated for convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19. Oz called host Sean Hannity “Dr. Hannity” for bringing up the treatment. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/3/20]

  • Then-FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn appeared on Watters’ World to explain convalescent plasma and the timeline to roll out the treatment and expressed his excitement for the potential of the treatment. [Fox News, Watters’ World, 4/4/20]

  • Fox correspondent Gillian Turner reported on Donald Trump’s promotion of convalescent plasma “as a potential cure for severely ill patients,” without clarifying that there was no evidence to support his claim. [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 7/30/20]

  • Guest Dr. Steve Weinberg said that Donald Trump was “right” to tout convalescent plasma and that the treatment was responsible for “a lot of lives being saved.” [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 7/30/20]

  • In response to co-host Juan Williams’ hesitancy about convalescent plasma, co-host Jesse Watters asserted, “If you had the virus and your doctor said, these are some antibodies and plasma that we are going to give you to save your life, I guarantee you, Juan, you would take it.” [Fox News, The Five, 8/24/20]

  • In an interview with host Laura Ingraham, then-President Donald Trump continued to push convalescent plasma days after then-FDA Commissioner Dr. Hahn walked back his statement on the benefits of the treatment. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/31/20]

  • On Justice with Judge Jeanine, Donald Trump recommended convalescent plasma again and said that the country was “really rounding the corner.” [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 9/12/20]

  • Fox News guest and then-Vice President Mike Pence praised the Trump administration for being “just a couple of weeks away from confirming the positive impact of convalescent plasma.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 9/16/20]

  • Host Steve Hilton praised Donald Trump for pushing against the bureaucracy to make treatments like convalescent plasma available. [Fox News, The Next Revolution, 10/4/20]

  • Dr. Mehmet Oz said that the widely used treatment Regeneron, which has emergency use authorization, is “analogous to convalescent plasma.” He continued that scientists had “perfected what to pull out of [the plasma] and that’s what this drug represents.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/5/20]

  • Laura Ingraham promoted unproven treatments, such as convalescent plasma, “which we know work.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 10/26/20]

  • White nationalist Stephen Miller praised Donald Trump for “giving us” vaccines and “emphasiz[ing]” therapeutics, listing convalescent plasma. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/3/21]

  • Frequent guest Dr. Marty Makary claimed that convalescent plasma is “clearly shown to reduce mortality” to encourage alternatives to vaccines. [Fox News, Fox News Primetime, 8/19/21]

  • Doxycycline

  • Doxycycline, a derivative of the drug tetracycline, is an antibiotic used to treat respiratory infections, skin infections, and sexually transmitted infections that has shown potential ability to inhibit coronavirus replication and exhibited anti-inflammatory properties. A study published in July 2020 from professors at the schools of medicine at the University of Virginia, Boston University, and Cornell suggested that doxycycline could be responsible for improvement in condition of four COVID-19 patients who were “high risk for morbidity and mortality” but emphasized the need for a “larger randomized controlled trial.” A five-day trial of 72 COVID-19 patients from researchers in Bangladesh that investigated whether doxycycline used in conjunction with ivermectin could reduce the time needed for virological clearance found that the drug cocktail had no statistically significant effect. The study also noted that the “sample was too small … to draw any solid conclusions.” 

    In the NIH’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel, the panel stated “there is insufficient evidence” to recommend for or against the use of ivermectin because of confounding impacts of doxycycline in the drug cocktail in a clinical trial. The panel also “recommends against” the use of doxycycline for outpatient treatment of COVID-19. On Fox News, however, NIH warnings were absent amid hosts’ and guests’ attempts to frame doxycycline as a useful treatment.

  • Frequent Ingraham Angle guest Dr. Ramin Oskoui stated that the “earlier in the disease process” patients received hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin or doxycycline, the  “better” the results. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 4/7/20]

  • Host Laura Ingraham claimed that “the medical establishment” held a “concerted campaign to vilify and dismiss and demean and, frankly, lie about the effectiveness” of therapeutic drugs for treating COVID-19. Dr. Peter McCullough mentioned doxycycline among the drugs he said should be used to treat COVID-19. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 12/8/20]

  • Host Sean Hannity hosted Dr. George Fareed, who also advocated for using doxycycline, among other things, saying vaccination would not be “the solution”: “And we've used agents that are -- that we knew from the beginning were effective -- hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, azithromycin, doxycycline, zinc -- and we go on now to add in monoclonal antibodies. So we have a one-two punch neutralizing the circulating virus. And it's important to take the early treatment approach. Mass vaccination is not going to be the solution.” [Fox News, Hannity, 8/2/21]

  • Exercise

  • Though the CDC has correlated high body weight with increased risks of severe illness in COVID-19 patients, there is no evidence that high body weight causes severe illness or death in COVID-19 patients. A study of a little over 200 patients from France noted that “results are conflicting” on the association between body mass index and in-hospital mortality. Another survey study from Kaiser Permanente of over 48,000 adults found that “consistent physical activity helps protect you if you do get COVID-19,” but as Harvard Medical School clinical instructor Monique Tello noted, “Getting vaccinated offers much greater protection.”

    Rhetoric pushing exercise as an infallible COVID-19 prevention tactic ignores the fact that extremely healthy people also suffer -- and have died -- from the virus. But this approach lets Fox hosts and guests scapegoat individuals, rather than bad health policy and misinformation, for the rapid spread of the disease.

  • Guest Dr. William Grace assumed hospitals not overwhelmed with coronavirus cases are in areas “where there's less obesity, less -- people are thinner and maybe more active.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 4/2/20]

  • Host Tucker Carlson blamed unhealthy people who do not exercise outdoors for contracting COVID-19: “Exercising outdoors, getting vitamin D from the sun, this makes you healthier and less vulnerable to coronavirus.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/26/20]

  • Host Rachel Campos-Duffy equated health and weight, and prescribed exercise to ward off COVID-19 infections: “We know that the best way to, you know, ward off the COVID, to survive it if you get it, I got it, is to be healthy. People who aren't healthy, who are overweight, who aren't exercising are going to not have as easy of a time getting through COVID.” [Fox News, Fox News Primetime, 2/18/21]

  • Host Laura Ingraham: “Why are we continuing to hold America hostage for a disease that is overwhelmingly survivable, even in older Americans, if given the right early therapeutics? Why are we not talking about the use of vitamin D, of fitness, getting in better shape and diet?” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 7/29/21]

  • Famotidine (Pepcid)

  • Famotidine is the active ingredient in the over-the-counter heartburn medication Pepcid. Researchers began recruiting patients for a virtual, randomized clinical trial in January 2021, citing observational studies and anecdotal evidence as reasons to pursue the trial. In their press statement, however, the scientists emphasized that “we want to make clear that we have not determined that famotidine has an impact on COVID-19, nor are we recommending that COVID-19 patients take Pepcid or famotidine in any format to treat that disease.” 

    In July 2021, two months after the Trump administration designated over $20 million to the study, the Associated Press reported that officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had “outlined a long list of concerns” about the study that was fast-tracked “despite a lack of published data or studies to suggest heavy doses would be safe or effective against the novel coronavirus.” Despite the scientific misgivings, Fox News continued to push famotidine.

  • White House correspondent John Roberts deemed it “really interesting” that before testing positive for COVID-19, Donald Trump had been taking a generic version of Pepcid and touted a study suggesting positive outcomes during COVID-19 despite the fact that “scientists aren't sure what the mechanism of action is.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 10/2/20]

  • Medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel falsely reported that “it’s been shown that with [Pepcid], they do better,” speculating, “Maybe the acidity of the stomach has to do with how much of the virus is absorbed.” [Fox News, The Five, 10/2/20]

  • Frequent guest Victor Davis Hanson included Pepcid among potentially viable COVID-19 treatments that scientists “just flatly ruled … out.” ” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 5/27/21]

  • Favipiravir

  • Favipiravir, the generic version of the drug Avigan, is an organic compound that has been shown to inhibit some viral replication. Some studies have suggested that the drug might help clear coronavirus from the airway faster than other drugs. The drug has been approved for emergency use authorization against COVID-19 in some countries including Russia, China, and India, but studies have presented little evidence that it is effective.

    A February 2021 review of favipiravir trials suggested that the drug has “little benefit for COVID-19 patients once their symptoms become serious.” Some trials are underway to investigate if the drug can be used as an early treatment. Even though the research is ongoing, Fox hosts still framed the drug as a viable cure.

  • Host Tucker Carlson touted favipiravir as a potential cure to COVID-19.. {Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/25/20]

  • Host Maria Bartiromo brought on Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to encourage viewers to look into the “growing evidence” of favipiravir, the “cheap oral version of Remdesivir.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 12/13/20]

  • Leronlimab

  • Leronlimab is a monoclonal antibody drug that has been studied as a treatment for HIV. The drug has anti-inflammatory properties and was being explored as a possible treatment to COVID-19 by a company called CytoDyn. Although the company indicated positive results, in May 2021 the FDA released a statement pushing back against the claims. Despite questions about the effectiveness of the drug, Fox News still pushed leronlimab. Later, the FDA stated, “It has become clear that the data currently available do not support the clinical benefit of leronlimab for the treatment of COVID-19.”

  • Medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel promoted the HIV drug leronlimab for treatment of COVID-19: “It's actually a very exciting drug that's been used in 10 patients around the country, because you know what it does? It decreases the inflammation we're seeing when we have a reaction to COVID-19.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/30/20]

  • Medical contributor Dr. Janette Nesheiwat listed leronlimab as a drug being studied for COVID-19 treatment: “We have Decadron, we have, you know, monoclonal antibodies, we have leronlimab being studied right now.” [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 7/30/20]

  • Losartan

  • Losartan is a drug used primarily to regulate high blood pressure. Researchers from University of Minnesota Medical School hypothesized the drug could reduce inflammation and help COVID-19 patients recover, but found it did not. The trial was terminated early due to “low likelihood of a clinically important treatment effect.” The same team of researchers is conducting another trial to determine if losartan prevents lung injury caused by COVID-19 pneumonia. 

    Though evidence suggests losartan is not a viable treatment for COVID-19, Fox News pushed it as such.

  • Hannity guest Dr. Mehmet Oz claimed the drug losartan is one in a “remarkable” list of treatments for COVID-19 that can “take sniper shots” at the virus. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/25/20]

  • NAC

  • NAC, or N-acetyle cysteine, is an antioxidant that has shown to possibly have anti-inflammatory properties and been widely sold as a supplement in the U.S., to some criticism

    While academic reviews suggest that NAC could be a beneficial drug treatment, clinical trials to prove the drug’s effectiveness are still ongoing. Regardless of the indefinite data, Fox hosts and guests still recommended NAC to their audience.

  • Medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel promoted NAC with heparin for COVID-19 treatment: “That's being used together with heparin, a blood thinner to, again, decrease this inflammation or exuberant response in the lungs, and it too has shown some effect at our goal here, which is getting people off ventilators or preventing them going on ventilators.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/30/20]

  • Guest Dr. William Grace promoted over-the-counter treatments for COVID-19: “People are, with COVID as an outpatient, are giving themselves inhaled corticosteroids. But more important, they're treating themselves with vitamin D, N-acetyl cysteine, reduced glutathione, and zinc. ... N-acetyl cysteine, reduced glutathione, and any zinc salt will protect you.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 10/21/20]

  • Laura Ingraham listed NAC as among therapeutics that are “good to take.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 2/2/21]

  • Laura Ingraham: “We have the science. We only have hundreds and hundreds of years, thousands of years, probably, of viral science on our side — and ivermectin, NAC, hydroxychloroquine, and emerging antivirals and therapeutics that provide enormous benefit.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 2/12/21]

  • Quercetin

  • Quercetin is a plant pigment that gives many fruits and vegetables their colors and an antioxidant that can have an anti-inflammatory effect. As inflammation is a risk of COVID-19, researchers have studied quercetin as a potential treatment for inflammation caused by the virus. 

    However, the FDA has not approved quercetin as a treatment for COVID-19 and has issued warning letters to three firms to cease selling quercetin with the claim that it is a safe and effective treatment or prevention of COVID-19.

  • Despite quercetin’s unapproved status, Tucker Carlson Tonight guest Victor Davis Hanson suggested that “off-label” drugs like quercetin as a treatment for COVID-19 are “not going to hurt you.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8/25/21]

  • Nasal washes

  • In 2019, a study found that hypertonic saline nasal irrigation and gargling reduced duration of the common cold, transmission between household contacts, and viral shedding. Consequently, saline nasal washes were posed as a preventative measure and/or treatment for COVID-19. Dr. John Schneider of Washington University School of Medicine and others considered the practice, noting that such irrigations “may increase viral shedding, and thus transmission.” The World Health Organization included saline on its list of COVID-19 mythbusters, declaring that “there is no evidence” that saline nasal rinses protect people from COVID-19.

  • Despite the WHO’s recommendation against saline rinses, correspondent John Roberts suggested “saline nasal washes” as a method to prevent COVID-19, noting that “all the emphasis has been on vaccines, not therapeutics.” Guest Dr. Marty Makary supported the claim, citing a study that said saline sprays could reduce the risk of hospitalization “by about 19-fold.” [Fox News, America Reports with John Roberts and Sandra Smith, 9/24/21]

  • Sunlight

  • In April 2020, then-President Donald Trump spread “a very nice rumor” that exposure to sunlight might help cure COVID-19. While ultraviolet radiation has effectively been used to inactivate the SARS-coronavirus (different from COVID-19), the viability of the practice to inactivate COVID-19 is unknown. 

    The World Health Organization has also included “sunny and hot weather” on its list of COVID-19 “mythbusters,” stating, “Exposing yourself to the sun or temperatures higher than 25°C DOES NOT protect you from COVID-19.” This did not stop Fox News from suggesting that sunlight had properties that could cure or prevent COVID-19.

  • Greg Gutfeld surmised that “being outside” and getting vitamin D is going to be “part of this solution” to the COVID-19 pandemic and that people are going to regret “mocking” those pushing for the unproven treatment. [Fox News, The Five, 5/8/20]

  • Guest Tyrus (also known as George Murdoch) described how sunlight can “kill” the coronavirus: “The sun kills it when it's out in the air. It's very hard to explain when it goes out in the air, it literally is very fragile.” [Fox News, GUTFELD!, 4/6/21]

  • Tamiflu

  • Tamiflu, the brand name of the generic drug oseltamivir, was a widely used antiviral drug during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, but doctors became concerned after the virus began developing resistance against this drug and others. Tamiflu targets virus replication and has been shown to shorten the duration of influenza symptoms by one to two days.

    While there are ongoing clinical trials, a study published in February 2020 from doctors in Wuhan, China, found “no effective outcomes” from treating patients with a drug cocktail that included oseltamivir. Despite the lack of evidence, Fox guests still urged viewers to look to the drug as an effective COVID-19 treatment.

  • Guest Dr. Bob Arnot recommended viewers request Tamiflu from their doctors to treat COVID-19: “They work quite well with the flu and may work with corona.” [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 2/29/20]

  • Guest Dr. Manny Alvarez compared Remdesivir to Tamiflu: “It's like a Tamiflu, if you will, for people that have been familiar with let's say with Tamiflu. It minimizes the viral side effects.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 10/2/20]

  • Vaping

  • Vaping has been speculated to protect users against COVID-19, based on an experiment conducted in the 1940s where propylene glycol -- a substance found in vapes -- was used as a disinfectant in hospitals and other locations under specific physical conditions. However, according to a paper published by the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association, these conditions differ from the “erratic and highly variable conditions in vaping,” making “this disinfectant effect … unlikely to occur inside the respiratory tract” in the case of a possible COVID-19 infection. Furthermore, a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1980 found that air sanitizers such as propylene glycol “do not sterilize, disinfect, act as a germicide, or protect experimental animals from infections by airborne bacteria or viruses. Thus, claims of value in preventing or treating diseases, or providing any other health protection … are not acceptable.”

  • Despite the evidence, Fox host Sean Hannity suggested on his radio show that vaping prevents people from getting coronavirus. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 3/19/20]

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that “influences cellular immunity and vascular integrity.” Because COVID-19 can cause inflammation and vascular injury, researchers are studying the possible benefits of vitamin C as a treatment for the virus.

    In February 2021, Cleveland Clinic researchers published a randomized clinical trial that found vitamin C did not benefit patients with COVID-19. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel has also stated there is “insufficient evidence … to recommend either for or against the use of vitamin C for the treatment of COVID-19 in non-critically ill patients.”

    Despite the evidence, Fox hosts and guests touted the benefits of vitamin C as a treatment.

  • Fox News @ Night hosted incoming Oregon County Commissioner Tootie Smith to criticize government officials pushing public health measures for “taking away our rights in America” while failing to tout unproven COVID-19 treatments such as vitamin C. [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 11/20/20]

  • Co-host Sean Duffy lamented the “death of debate” in America, saying we won’t allow for arguments about supposed benefits of vitamin C on COVID-19. [Fox News, The Five, 12/31/20]

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D has the potential to modulate immune responses and is hypothesized to have “immunomodulatory effects that could potentially protect against COVID-19 infection or decrease the severity of illness.” In a trial conducted in Brazil, researchers found that the difference in mortality rates between the group that was administered vitamin D3 and the placebo group “was not significant.”

    The study noted the treatment did not harm any patients, but the NIH states that high levels of vitamin D may cause hypercalcemia and nephrocalcinosis. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel has also stated there is “insufficient evidence to recommend either for or against the use of vitamin D for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.”

    Despite the trial results, the NIH’s recommendation, and the potentially dangerous side effects of an above-average dose, Fox News lauded vitamin D as a treatment for COVID-19 and repeatedly recommended viewers take it to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19, often undermining vaccines in the same breath.

  • Co-host Greg Gutfeld touted the “amazing results” of “combinations of vitamin D and hydroxy[chloroquine]” to undermine the immediate need for developing vaccines. [Fox News, The Five, 9/7/20]

  • Host Laura Ingraham hosted frequent guest Dr. Harvey Risch to tout a study of only 50 patients who were given vitamin D3. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 9/8/20]

  • Host Laura Ingraham hosted Dr. Ramin Oskoui to tout vitamin D as a treatment for COVID-19: “Higher dose vitamin D, getting your vitamin D level over 50 can markedly reduce by about 50% your risk of COVID. Vitamin D is notoriously well-tolerated with almost no side effects.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 10/12/20]

  • Host Laura Ingraham announced she is taking vitamin D and zinc every day and “everybody should be taking it.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 11/20/20]

  • Guest Dr. William Grace declared COVID-19 powerless against vitamin D: “This is a disease that entirely affects those people who have low vitamin D levels. Those who have normal or high vitamin D levels are totally unaffected by this disease.” He continued that his patients who took vitamin D have said they would rather have COVID-19 than a common cold. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 2/15/21]

  • Host Laura Ingraham: “You never hear Fauci talk about ... D3 or ivermectin, because they haven't even given emergency-use authorization for ivermectin, haven't even put out anything about that.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/5/21]

  • Host Laura Ingraham lamented why the FDA and CDC “haven't … been at the forefront of pushing early treatments” that address vitamin D deficiency. Guest Dr. Harvey Risch suggested that vitamin D as a solution to COVID-19 would be “too easy” and drugmakers would have “nothing left to sell” if doctors began pushing vitamin D and other therapeutics, even though vitamin D is yet to be proven as a viable COVID-19 treatment. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/22/21]

  • Guest Victor Davis Hanson partially blamed colder climate, and less vitamin D absorption, for higher incidences of COVID-19 in the Northeast: “In colder climates, people are indoors more, there's less vitamin D absorbed by the population during the winter.” [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 4/9/21]

  • Host Laura Ingraham listed ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, vitamin D, and zinc as treatments “that have had some positive effect.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 5/7/21]

  • Host Laura Ingraham: The experts at the CDC “were wrong about the benefits of vitamin D3, ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, and other drugs.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 5/11/21]

  • Host Laura Ingraham pitted vaccines against therapeutics, saying “ivermectin being used all over the world with some pretty good results,” as well as hydroxychloroquine and vitamin D. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 7/29/21]

  • Zinc

  • Zinc is a mineral that the human body needs in small doses to support cellular function, aid immune response, and help with growth and development. Zinc has been shown to impair replication of RNA viruses and research suggests that, when used in conjunction with chloroquine, it could induce apoptosis, or cellular destruction, of cells infected with cancer.

    However, in February 2021, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic published a randomized clinical trial that found no benefit to COVID-19 patients treated with zinc. While ongoing clinical trials are still occurring, the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel reports that there is currently “insufficient evidence” to advocate for or against the use of zinc as a treatment for COVID-19, urging Americans against using zinc supplementation “above the recommended dietary allowance.” Fox News, however, continually promoted the value of additional zinc intake during the pandemic.

  • After telling Vice President Mike Pence the story of a doctor who gave his patients a drug cocktail of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc sulfate with “zero deaths, zero hospitalizations, zero intubations,” host Sean Hannity claimed it’s the most “hopeful” thing he’s seen since the start of the pandemic. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/23/20]

  • Host Laura Ingraham hosted a nursing home medical director who treated COVID-19-positive residents and staff with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc to boast about his “very impressive results.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 5/4/20]

  • Fox correspondent Trace Gallagher reported that President Donald Trump was taking preventative doses of hydroxychloroquine and zinc, but he failed to note that zinc had no proven effect on COVID-19 prevention. [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 5/18/20]

  • Co-host Greg Gutfeld claimed that he wouldn’t stop talking about the potential benefit of hydroxychloroquine and zinc until experts “show” him the “death rate.” [Fox News, The Five, 5/19/20]

  • After then-President Trump commented in an interview that therapeutics are “going to be fantastic,” host Sean Hannity noted that he had Dr. Mehmet Oz on his radio show to advocate for hydroxychloroquine in conjunction with azithromycin and zinc [Fox News, Hannity, 7/23/20]

  • Ingraham Angle guest Dr. Simone Gold of America's Frontline Doctors said the drug cocktail of hydroxychloroquine and zinc was “a cure” for “early COVID disease” and suggested that Americans can be confident in the treatment because social media platforms removed information about it. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 7/28/20]

  • Correspondent John Roberts described Donald Trump’s claim that the drug cocktail of hydroxychloroquine with zinc and azithromycin was “maybe an effective early stage treatment for coronavirus,” without noting the lack of evidence and risk of side effects from the drugs. [Fox News, Special Report, 7/28/20]

  • After Donald Trump was admitted to the hospital for COVID-19, Dr. Janette Nesheiwat claimed that zinc had been “shown to stop the virus, any virus, from replicating.” [Fox News, Fox News Live Event, 10/3/20]

  • On The Ingraham Angle, Dr. Ramin Oskoui accused former FDA officials of touting “more expensive drugs” instead of “very simple and noncontroversial” treatments like vitamin D and zinc. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 10/20/20]

  • Host Jesse Watters lamented that “Twitter will censor you for disinformation if you post about” a study that suggested positive benefits of hydroxychloroquine along with zinc. [Fox News, Watters’ World, 6/12/21]

  • Conclusion

  • Fox News has recommended COVID-19 treatments range from widely used treatments like Regeneron to unproven and potentially dangerous things like ivermectin and bear bile, all the while refusing to endorse the readily available, life-saving vaccines to its viewers. Hosts and guests on Fox News seem to be in an unspoken agreement to willfully ignore the reality that these supposed cures hinge on people getting infected with the coronavirus and treated after the fact, whereas the vaccine greatly lowers the chances of getting infected altogether. But, as we’ve seen time and time again throughout this pandemic, Fox News does not care about its viewers.