A Christian conservative pundit whose media outlet got press credentials during the Trump administration is blaming the surge in COVID-19 infections on an unlikely group of people: those who have gotten vaccinated against the virus.
Pastor Rick Wiles and his show TruNews have blamed the coronavirus pandemic on China, Jewish people, LGBTQ people, and the devil. But since he got the virus himself after refusing to get vaccinated, he’s now blaming the highly infectious Delta variant on people who have gotten vaccinated, saying that they’re “shedding the virus.”
“You’ve got people who are vaccinated who are shedding the virus, infecting other people, walking around thinking they are protected and yet they are the ones who are spreading the virus to other people,” he said on his show on Tuesday. “I don’t think that there is a variant called Delta. I think it’s a name that they gave the public to explain the explosion of infections caused by the vaccinated people.”
Wiles has been spreading COVID misinformation since the beginning of the pandemic, and this year his ire turned toward the vaccines. He claimed that the COVID-19 vaccines will kill 70% of people who get them, calling attempts to vaccinate people a “mass death campaign.” He also said that the deaths would make for “a better world” since only “stupid people” get vaccinated.
Shortly after railing against the vaccines, Wiles was hospitalized with a severe COVID-19 infection and several TruNews employees caught the virus. Even though Wiles spent the past year saying that the virus was God punishing various groups of people he hates – and even though it was unsurprising that a workplace full of people who oppose the vaccines experienced several infections – the pundit who filled in for him on TruNews claimed that Wiles was infected by the devil in “retaliation” for speaking out against LGBTQ people.
“We constantly, you know, battle demonic spirits,” his replacement, Lauren Witzke, said at the time.
But Wiles is back now and he’s blaming the vaccinated, China, and Satanists.
“We’re witnessing for the first time in human history global genocide, compliments of the Church of Satan,” Wiles said. “The Communist Party is the political arm of the Church of Satan. These people that are running the world are Satanists. They’re killing off massive numbers of people.”
Witze was his co-host on Tuesday and she claimed that she shook “10,000 hands last year” and that it’s “odd” that people she worked with got infected this year. She called the vaccines a “bioweapon.”
“I’m convinced that my infection and the explosion that we had here in our staff, among my family and friends — 20-some people altogether infected suddenly — I believe it came from a vaccinated person coming into this building who was shedding the virus,” he continued. “I believe that’s how it happened.”
Studies involving tens of thousands of participants showed that the vaccines are safe and effective at preventing death from COVID-19 and the virus is killing fewer people in countries that have been faster at vaccinating their populations. Over two billion people have received at least one dose of a vaccine worldwide and the complications from the vaccines have been rare compared to the complications from COVID-19 itself.
The CDC issued a recommendation this week asking everyone – including people who have been vaccinated – to wear masks indoors if they live in parts of the country experiencing a surge in COVID-19 at the moment as a temporary measure to alleviate pressure from hospitals in those areas while the Biden administration tries to convince more people to get vaccinated. That effort may be thwarted by rightwing pundits like Wiles and some at Fox News who continue to present the vaccines as dangerous.