GOP senator says it “may be true” that the COVID-19 vaccine gives you AIDS

Sen. Ron Johnson
Sen. Ron JohnsonPhoto: Shutterstock

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told an anti-vaccine activist in an interview that it “may be true” that the COVID-19 vaccines are giving people AIDS.

Johnson, who has a history of downplaying the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, was talking with anti-vaccine extremist Todd Callender.

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“You’ve got more than 100 doctors here, all of whom will tell you that these shots caused vaccine-induced AIDS,” Callender said in the video interview. “They purposefully gave people AIDS. They knew all of this, yet they licensed these shots anyway.”

“This is criminal intent.”

Callender’s claims are false. The vaccines have been found to be safe and effective at protecting people from severe COVID-19. AIDS is caused by HIV, a virus. Vaccine manufacturers are not putting a virus into the various COVID-19 vaccines just to infect people.

Johnson could have pointed out that Callender was just making wild claims with no basis in reality – actually, a U.S. senator would probably have done well to avoid talking to Callender at all – claims that could put others in danger if they are believed, but instead he seemed to agree with Callender’s main point but worried that Callender was moving too fast.

“You got to do one step at a time,” Johnson said.

“Everything you say may be true, but right now the public views the vaccines as largely safe and effective, that vaccine injuries are rare and mild. That is the narrative,” he continued.

“That’s what the vast majority of the public accepts. So until we get a larger percentage of the population with their eyes open, to: ‘Whoa, these vaccine injuries are real. Why?’ You’ve got to do step by step.”

Johnson was one of eight U.S. senators to vote against the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in March 2020, saying that coronavirus death is “a risk we accept so we can move about. We don’t shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu.”

As the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Johnson used his position of power to hold hearings on bizarre COVID conspiracy theories. He invited fringe figures who testified about using Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to treat the disease, both medications that have been shown to not help fight COVID-19.

In April 2021, over a year after the start of the pandemic, he suggested people gargle mouthwash to prevent COVID.

“Standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus,” he said. “If you get it, you may reduce viral replication. Why not try all these things?”

Despite his desire to get people to try unproven methods of fighting the virus, he does not support the most effective way to fight the pandemic: vaccines. He has refused to say that the vaccines are safe and he has not encouraged his constituents to get vaccinated, unlike other political leaders. He has claimed that the vaccines kill people through “immune system overreaction,” which is not a thing that happens.

YouTube even suspended Johnson’s account for seven days to stop him from spreading COVID misinformation.

“We removed the video in accordance with our COVID-19 medical misinformation policies, which don’t allow content that encourages people to use hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus,” a spokesperson for the video sharing platform said last June.

He continues to claim that the FDA has not approved any of the COVID-19 vaccines, which is not true.

Johnson has gotten a score of “0” for the last several years on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard, showing strong opposition to LGBTQ equality.

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