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Lauding vaccines, Fox's Neil Cavuto says a 2nd bout of COVID nearly killed him

Veteran Fox Business host Neil Cavuto's extended, unexplained absence from the network over the past five weeks has raised questions for many viewers — some wondered whether something sinister was afoot, others feared he had suddenly died.Upon returning to his show Cavuto: Coast to Coast on Monday, the anchor said the latter guess was nearly correct: A second bout of COVID-19 landed him in the intensive care unit, where he said things were "touch and go" for some time.Cavuto, who has multiple sclerosis and survived stage 4 cancer and open-heart surgery, counted himself among the roughly 3% of Americans who has a weakened immune system and "cannot sustain the full benefits" of the COVID-19 vaccine. But he said some defense was better than no defense."Let me be clear," he told viewers. "Doctors say had I not been vaccinated at all, I wouldn't be here."A Fox spokesperson confirmed over email that Cavuto addressed his absence on Fox News Channel's Your World with Neil Cavuto as well as Fox Business Network's Cavuto: Coast to Coast.This was the second bout of COVID-19 for Cavuto, who received death threats last October when he disclosed his diagnosis and urged viewers to get vaccinated to protect themselves and vulnerable members of their community.Cavuto said that this time around was a "far, far more serious strand, what doctors call COVID pneumonia" and that he was in the ICU for "quite a while."He said that he had asked Fox to keep the illness private — because he didn't want to become the story — but felt he owed viewers an explanation for his prolonged absence. He also appeared to dismiss claims that his hospitalization was due to the vaccine itself, calling that a "grassy knoll theory.""Some of you who've wanted to put me out of my misery darn near got what you wished for," he added. "So, sorry to disappoint you! But no, the vaccine didn't cause that ... My very compromised immune system did."Cavuto was careful to stress that he was "not here to debate vaccinations for you, just offer an explanation for me."Some of Cavuto's Fox colleagues have similarly urged viewers to take COVID-19 seriously — for instance, the network released a public service announcement last February recommending masking, social distancing and getting the vaccine.But he is a relative outlier, as the network has long criticized vaccine and mask mandates (despite its own stringent company policies) and prime-time hosts like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham have repeatedly promoted false and misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines.Unvaccinated people were 97 times more likely to die from omicron compared with those who were boosted, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said earlier this month. Some 64% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to NPR's vaccine tracker — check on your state here.

This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog. Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.