Dr Oz admits he ‘misspoke’ after backlash on social media over his clumsy remark that reopening schools ‘may only cost us 2-3% in terms of total mortality’
- Dr Mehmet Oz clarified that he misspoke in a Fox News interview on Tuesday
- He suggested that health risks of reopening schools might be minimal
- Cited study showing that closing schools reduced overall mortality by just 2-4%
- Pundits misinterpreted his remarks as accepting 2-4% fatality among students
- Children are at minuscule risk of dying from coronavirus, but can spread it
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
Dr Mehmet Oz has admitted he misspoke after his remarks that reopening schools might not greatly effect overall deaths drew social media backlash.
The famous TV doctor posted a video statement on Twitter Thursday, after his remarks in an interview with Fox News earlier in the week were misinterpreted by pundits.
In the interview, Oz cited a promising medical study saying that closing schools in the coronavirus pandemic reduces the overall population mortality by just 2 to 4 percent, and urged the risks and rewards of school closures to be weighed.
Furious critics tore into him on social media, mistakenly claiming that he had suggested that 2 to 4 percent of schoolchildren dying would be acceptable.
Dr Oz posted a video statement on Twitter Thursday, after his remarks in an interview with Fox News earlier in the week were misinterpreted by pundits
Asked by Fox News host Sean Hannity how the economy might be jump started, Oz offered a clumsily worded reply that led to the confusion.
‘Schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2–3 percent in terms of total mortality,’ he said.
‘Any life is a life lost but to get every child back into a school where they are safely being educated, being fed, and making the most of their lives, with the theoretical risk on the back side, might be tradeoff some folks would consider,’ he continued.
The study Oz referred to made it clear that children face statistically tiny risks from coronavirus itself, which overwhelmingly threatens older people, and those with underlying condidtions.
The study argued that the health risks to children of closing schools were significant, and possibly outweigh the benefits.
‘Many children will suffer from a lack of access to school-provided social assistance, such as free lunches or clean water and washing facilities. Those engaged with school-facilitated health care, such as vaccinations and mental health services, may miss out on vital health provisions,’ the authors wrote.
The number of US deaths has risen to 34,846. Those do not include probable deaths reported by New York City, which takes into account people who have died in their home without receiving a test since March 11
However, children can spread the virus to people who are at higher risk, which is why the authors found that the overall mortality rate rose slightly when schools are open.
In his statement, Oz clarified that he was advocating for weighing the risks and benefits of closing schools.
‘I’ve realized my comments on risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention. I misspoke,’ he said.
‘As a heart surgeon, I spent my career fighting to save lives in the operating room by minimizing risks. At the same time, I’m being asked constantly, how will be be able to get people back to their normal lives?’ Oz continued.
‘To do that, one of the important steps will be figuring out, how do we get our kids safely back to school? We know that for many kids, school is a place of security, nutrition and learning that is missing right now.’
A classroom in Manhattan is empty on what would otherwise be a school day. Experts fear that closing schools could deprive kids of access to nutrition and health resources