Last week, two frontline doctors who said they have administered more than 5,000 coronavirus tests, made headlines when they compared the coronavirus to the seasonal flu and called for an end to quarantine practices.
The two physicians, Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Accelerated Urgent Care in Bakersfield, California, presented their medical advice in a video briefing with KERO-TV that the news outlet then uploaded to YouTube. The video quickly went viral, garnering more than 5.46 million views.
But on Monday, the video was taken down for "violating YouTube's Terms of Service."
Is it just me or did @YouTube take down Dr. Erickson's viral video with 5 million views? https://t.co/eNjJ0e7K34— Daniel Horowitz (@Daniel Horowitz) 1588039471.0
In a follow-up report, KERO-TV confirmed that the first of two videos playing the press briefing in full was removed. The news outlet submitted an appeal to YouTube about the removal, but has not yet heard back.
In a statement to the outlet following the video's removal, Dr. Erickson said, "Anytime you push against the grain, you are going to have people who don't like it."
Why was it taken down?
TheBlaze reached out to YouTube's press division for a more specific answer on why the video was taken down, but YouTube did not immediately respond.
After publication, YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi responded to the TheBlaze in a statement:
"We quickly remove flagged content that violate our Community Guidelines, including content that explicitly disputes the efficacy of local healthy authority recommended guidance on social distancing that may lead others to act against that guidance. However, content that provides sufficient educational, documentary, scientific or artistic (EDSA) context is allowed -- for example, news coverage of this interview with additional context. From the very beginning of the pandemic, we've had clear policies against COVID-19 misinformation and are committed to continue providing timely and helpful information at this critical time."
Erickson and Massihi spoke to Fox News host Laura Ingraham Monday evening just before the video was removed. After the interview, when Ingraham discovered the video had been taken down, she noted relevant comments regarding censorship that YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki had recently made.
"Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy ... [removal] is another really important part of of our policy," Wojcicki reportedly said.
Dr Erickson's video removed after Laura Ingraham interview (27APR2020) youtu.be
What did they say?
In the video briefing, Erickson and Massihi pushed back against the conventional narrative regarding the dangers of COVID-19 and the effectiveness of social distancing measures.
"Do we need to still shelter in place? Our answer is emphatically no," Erickson said. "Do we need businesses to be shut down? Emphatically no. Do we need to test them and get them back to work? Absolutely."
Erickson went on to say that COVID-19 and the seasonal flu are "similar in their prevalence and death rates."
"If you study the numbers in 2017 and 2018, we had 50 to 60 million with the flu," Erickson said. "And we had a similar death rate in the deaths the United States were 43,545 — similar to the flu of 2017-2018. We always have between 37,000 and 60,000 deaths in the United States, every single year. No pandemic talk. No shelter in place. No shutting down businesses."
He also warned that quarantining could lead to weakened immune systems.
"Sheltering in place decreases your immune system. And then as we all come out of shelter in place with a lower immune system and start trading viruses, bacteria — what do you think is going to happen? Disease is going to spike," Erickson explained.
Though the original upload has been removed, video of the press briefing can still be seen elsewhere on YouTube:
COVID-19 Briefing: Current Quarantine Approach Wrong Based on Science | Dr Erickson & Dr Massihi Pt1 www.youtube.com
Editor's Note: This post has been updated to include YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi's response to our question regarding the video's removal.