Ron Johnson falsely claims it 'may be true' that COVID-19 vaccines cause AIDS

Ron Johnson falsely claims it 'may be true' that COVID-19 vaccines cause AIDS

Although Wisconsin is a battleground state that went to former President Donald Trump in 2016’s presidential election but favored President Joe Biden in 2020, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson obviously has no desire to embrace the center in the 2022 midterms. Johnson, seeking a third term in the U.S. Senate, is running as a far-right MAGA culture warrior — and he was clearly pandering to anti-vaxxer extremists when he said that COVID-19 vaccines “may” cause AIDS.

The Wisconsin State Journal’s Alexander Shur, in an article published on May 4, reports that during a recent video interview, attorney and anti-vaxxer Todd Callender claimed that COVID-19 shots “caused vaccine-induced AIDS” and “purposefully gave people AIDS” — something there is absolutely no proof of. In fact, COVID-19 vaccines are saving lives; it’s quite possible to be fully vaccinated and still get COVID-19, but infections among the vaccinated tend to be milder infections.

When Callender falsely linked COVID-19 vaccines to HIV and AIDS, Johnson responded, “Let me challenge you there. That’s way down the road. I mean, you gotta do one step at a time. Everything you say may be true, OK. But right now, the public views the vaccines as largely safe and effective, that vaccine injuries are rare and mild. That’s the narrative, that’s what the vast majority of the public accepts.”

Johnson continued, “So, until we get a larger percentage of the population with their eyes open to ‘woah, these vaccine injuries are real, why?,’ you know, it’s gotta be step by step. You can’t leap to crimes against humanity. You can’t leap to another Nuremberg trial.”

Alexa Henning, a Johnson spokesperson, told the Wisconsin State Journal, “To be clear, the senator has never stated nor does believe that the vaccine causes HIV. Someone else brought it up on the call, and the senator pushed back on his claim.”

Johnson didn’t really “push back” against Callender’s false and dangerous claim; he said it “may be true.” And some Wisconsin Democrats are calling him out, including two of the Democratic primary candidates in Wisconsin’s 2022 U.S. Senate race: Alex Lasry, senior vice president of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski.

Lasry said, “Conspiracy theory nut Ron Johnson is out here spewing dangerous lies,” and Godlewski tweeted, “Every time Ron Johnson opens his mouth, he puts people’s lives in danger. We desperately need a U.S. Senator with a firmer grasp on reality — that’s why I got in this race. Let’s get this public health menace out of office.”

Since it emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019, COVID-19 has, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, killed more than 6.2 million people worldwide — including over 994,000 people in the United States.

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