Senator sparks anger by claiming Fauci is ‘overhyping’ Covid ‘the exact same’ way he did with AIDS

·3 min read
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Republican senator Ron Johnson has accused Anthony Fauci of “overhyping” the coronavirus pandemic and doing the “exact same thing with AIDS”.

The Wisconsin senator made the remarks against the US’s top infectious disease expert in a podcast of Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade on World AIDS Day, observed on 1 December every year.

Mr Johnson attacked Dr Fauci, who formerly served as the head of the Covid task force under the Trump administration and has been the target of Republican criticism, even as increasing concerns have emerged about the new omicron variant.

“Fauci did the exact same thing with AIDS. He overhyped it,” Mr Johnson told the Fox and Friends co-host.

“He created all kinds of fear, saying it could affect the entire population when it couldn’t,” Mr Johnson said, without backing up his remarks with scientific evidence. “And he’s doing, he’s using the exact same playbook with Covid, ignoring therapy, pushing a vaccine.”

Dr Fauci’s role in fighting the country’s AIDS crisis in the 1980s has been well documented, even as he had faced scathing criticism from activists for his handling of the crisis when he took over as the first director of the National Institutes of Health’s Office of AIDS Research from 1988 to 1994.

Dr Fauci, however, reportedly later collaborated with several activists on the research and development of treatments.

While Mr Johnson made these claims on the podcast, he received no counter from the presenter Mr Kilmeade, who moved on to another topic after the senator made the comments.

The comments have been criticised on social media, including by Democrat representative Don Beyer, who termed the remarks to be a “monstrously ignorant thing to say even for Ron Johnson”.

Scot Ross, a political commentator, had a scathing tweet for Mr Johnson.

Another user wrote that Mr Johnson “misses point on two killer plagues”.

US has been grappling with reigning in the pandemic and recorded a massive death toll due to Covid-19. There is evidence of the transmissibility of the virus and the effects that it can have on vulnerable populations.

While over 700,000 lives have been lost in the US as a result of the Covid pandemic in the last two years, an equal number of deaths have occurred due to HIV in the US since it was first discovered decades ago, with nearly 13,000 people dying each year.

While Mr Johnson bizarrely claimed not everyone can be infected by Covid-19 or AIDS, the viruses that cause the diseases – the novel coronavirus and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) – can infect anyone who is exposed to them.

While recovery from the second wave of Covid-19 was on track, the discovery of the new variant has once again triggered concerns as countries rush to implement travel bans, even as scientists continue to gather more data on the highly mutated variant.

Dr Fauci has said the world needs to continue taking precautions like wearing masks, avoiding indoor crowding and getting vaccinated.

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