During the pandemic that has killed over 200,000 Americans so far, Fox News host Laura Ingraham and her guests have promoted at least seven different unproven treatments they purport could prevent, treat, or alleviate symptoms of COVID-19.
The president’s and right-wing media’s obsession with hydroxychloroquine has been well documented. The antimalarial drug has not been proved to treat or prevent COVID-19. Despite this lack of evidence, Fox’s coverage -- riddled with misinformation, conspiracy theories, and political spin -- has been an unmitigated disaster for the development of potential vaccines and therapeutics, undermining scientific research and eroding trust in public health officials.
But for Ingraham, a prolific COVID-19 misinformer who reportedly advised President Donald Trump on hydroxychloroquine back in April, one unproven cure has not been enough. A Media Matters analysis found the prime-time host and her guests have pushed a total of at least seven different unproven drugs on The Ingraham Angle.
Below is a list of underdeveloped or unproven treatments beyond hydroxychloroquine which Ingraham or her guest promoted:
Ingraham and her guests have promoted azithromycin -- alone and in combination with hydroxychloroquine -- as a treatment for COVID-19 on multiple occasions. Azithromycin is a commonly prescribed drug that treats a variety of bacterial infections. A large study in Brazil found that “the efficacy and safety of azithromycin in the treatment of COVID-19 remain uncertain.”
This has not stopped Ingraham and her guests from promoting the drug on her show. She has repeatedly relied on the research of French microbiologist Didier Raoult to boost azithromycin on its own as well as in combination with hydroxychloroquine. The National Institutes of Health “recommends against the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine with or without azithromycin.” Furthermore, Raoult’s record on assessing potential COVID-19 treatments is questionable. According to The New York Times, his study on hydroxychloroquine was “riddled with discrepancies and apparent errors.” Here are some examples from Ingraham’s show:
- During an April 22 segment attacking a Veteran Affairs study which found an “increased risk of death associated with COVID-19 patients treated with [hydroxychloroquine] alone,” Ingraham repeated Raoult’s claim that azithromycin is “a proposed treatment for COVID.”
- On April 27, Ingraham again attacked the Veteran Affairs study, calling it “shoddy” and “ridiculous,” and cited Raoult’s research on hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.
- On May 6, Ingraham promoted a study by Raoult to claim that “using … hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin before COVID-19 complications occur is, quote, ‘safe and associated with very low fatality rate in patients.’” She called the results of the study “pretty stunning.”
- On May 28, she touted “new reviews of studies that vindicate the use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment” for COVID-19.
- On September 8, Ingraham promoted “Vitamin D3, hydroxychloroquine, and azithromycin” as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
- As recently as October 2, Ingraham Angle guest Dr. Stephen Smith said, “There are plenty of trials showing that hydroxychloroquine, especially with azithromycin, works.”
Zinc & Vitamin D
Zinc and Vitamin D are over-the-counter supplements. Zinc is a nutrient that boosts the immune system, and Vitamin D aids bone health. Neither supplement has proved effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.
On October 2, regular Ingraham Angle guest Ramin Oskoui cited no evidence to claim zinc, Vitamin D, and pepcid are “very, very beneficial in COVID patients” while he and Ingraham discussed Trump’s treatment for the virus. He also said there is a “lost opportunity as to press patients who are healthy” to take Vitamin D and zinc. Later on October 12, Oskoui advised Ingraham’s audience to buy zinc and Vitamin D over-the-counter to reduce the risk of contracting COVID. Ingraham suggested the supplements “could do enormous benefit to people across the country.”
Itolizumab is a drug normally used to treat psoriasis. In July, a clinical trial in India showed positive results for the 30 patients enrolled in the study. Itolizumab is currently in phase 2 trials in the United States. Despite this early stage of development, Ingraham touted Itolizumab, saying, “We want to highlight a promising new candidate” for treating severely sick COVID-19 patients, and she said she is “impressed cautiously thus far.”
On March 20, Ingraham promoted the rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra as showing “significant promise” in treating COVID-19. Initial clinical trials showed the drug is not effective at lowering the death rate of patients ill with the disease, though it may prevent ventilator use.
During an interview, Ingraham Angle guest Dr. Devi Nampiaparampil claimed there is “some promise” that vitamin C can benefit patients with COVID-19. The NIH cites “insufficient data” to “recommend either for or against the use of vitamin C” for treating COVID-19.