Find someone who loves you the way Fox News prime-time hosts love treatments that don’t actually work against COVID-19. The network’s stars went all in promoting the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the deworming medication ivermectin, which studies show are ineffective as COVID-19 treatments. And now they’re rallying behind monoclonal antibody treatments that had some success against earlier waves of the virus, but that data show do not work against the now-prevalent omicron variant.
Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham applauded Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night as the Florida Republican feuded with President Joe Biden’s administration after federal agencies removed two monoclonal antibody therapies from the list of approved therapies for treating COVID-19 and stopped distributing them. The pair suggested the treatments had been sidelined as part of a conspiracy against the governor; parroted his talking points; hosted a member of the DeSantis administration and DeSantis himself to rail against the decision; and even used the occasion to call into question the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, the use of which dramatically reduces rates of hospitalization and death.
In reality, the Food and Drug Administration pulled its authorization for the treatments on Monday after reviewing lab data which found that “omicron appears 1,000-fold less vulnerable to Regeneron’s drug and nearly 3,000-fold less vulnerable to [Eli] Lilly’s drug.” Since the therapies don’t work, providing them to patients exposes them to the drugs’ side effects without any benefit. The FDA further stated that a third type of monoclonal antibody therapy that remains effective against omicron retains its authorization, as do several other COVID-19 treatments.
Both companies issued statements saying they agreed with the decision and did not believe it was medically appropriate to provide their therapies at this time, noting that the omicron variant currently accounts for more than 99% of U.S. COVID-19 cases.
But DeSantis, who has championed monoclonal antibody therapies in Florida as he seeks to garner political support from right-wing anti-vaxxers, responded to the news by recklessly politicizing the decision. He tweeted on Tuesday that “the whims of a floundering president” were denying “lifesaving” treatments to Floridians “without a shred of clinical data.” While it’s true the FDA acted based on lab tests and not clinical data, as Regeneron noted, its treatment’s failure in lab tests “tells us that it is also not going to work in people who are affected by this variant.”
DeSantis is a Fox favorite, and later that night the network’s propaganda apparatus swung into action on his behalf, pushing his talking points and promoting his demand that Floridians retain the right to have useless drugs pumped into their bodies.
“Biden's FDA abruptly has now halted access to lifesaving monoclonal antibody treatments, now forcing states like Florida to shut down the antibody clinics they have all throughout the state that have saved many people's lives,” Hannity declared.
Hannity praised DeSantis’ “strong statement” against the decision and fumed against “Biden's medical authoritarianism,” which he said amounted to “playing petty politics with American lives, denying access to lifesaving treatments.”
He went on to point the finger at “the dangerous consequence of the cult of that one-size-fits-all medicine. Vaccines, boosters, vaccines, boosters only.”
The Fox host then brought on DeSantis’ surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, to plug the drugs.
The following hour, Ingraham framed her segment as: “The Biden administration just escalated its war against lifesaving COVID therapeutics.”
The Fox host also used the news to take a shot at the vaccines, saying, “If the FDA really wanted to be consistent here, they should then, I guess, also be questioning the use of vaccines against omicron? They, too, are dramatically less effective against the new variant.”
Ingraham rarely misses an opportunity to dissuade her viewers from taking lifesaving vaccines. But in fact, while the omicron variant can cause breakthrough infections among the vaccinated, those fully vaccinated and boosted with an mRNA vaccine have more protection from the infection than the unvaccinated, and vaccinated people are far less likely to suffer serious illness or die.
She then brought on DeSantis himself to denounce the FDA’s decision. The governor told her audience that the move was based on “the whims of the Biden administration” and its desire to pick “political fights” rather than weighing scientific evidence and helping Floridians.
Fox’s biggest stars appear willing to support virtually any COVID-19 treatment, no matter how much evidence there is that it doesn’t work, as long as it isn’t the vaccines, which are actually effective. Their campaign against vaccination is killing their viewers.