MADISON, Wis. — As Ron Johnson continues to spread dangerous disinformation about COVID and the effectiveness of vaccines, it’s clear that Johnson is more concerned with himself and his agenda than the economic wellbeing and public health of Wisconsin. See below for the fact check on Ron Johnson’s latest lie about the COVID vaccine:
Politifact: Johnson incorrectly claims there are no approved COVID-19 vaccines in America
Into that mix comes U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, who in an Oct. 4, 2021 appearance on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox News made a series of statements trashing the federal government’s response to COVID, including one that is — at best — flat-out wrong.
“We do not have an approved vaccine in America,” Johnson said. “They did it for the Comirnaty — it’s available, I guess, in Europe, but the Pfizer vaccine available in the U.S. is not FDA approved — it’s got an emergency use authorization.”
Of course, the Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the FDA. It is now marketed as Comirnaty. Johnson is wrong on that point.
Carlson did not correct Johnson’s statement, instead offering: “At some point, we’re going to learn the depth of the lies and I think it’s going to be shocking to everyone, even those of us who have a very low opinion of those making these decisions.”
Let’s dig in a little bit more.
The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine in August
The federal U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine — the Pfizer-BioNTech shots — on August 23, 2021.
Before that, each COVID-19 vaccine approved in the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — had received an emergency use authorization (or EUA) from the FDA, following an expedited process because of the public health emergency the pandemic triggered.
Due to the full FDA approval, the Pfizer vaccine is now marketed as Comirnaty; it’s the same vaccine as the Pfizer vaccines that were available under the emergency use authorization. Comirnaty had previously been authorized in the European Union on May 28, 2021, according to Pfizer.
Johnson in his interview said there were no approved vaccines in the U.S. and specifically — and wrongly — said the Pfizer vaccine has not been approved.
The emergency use authorization does not mean manufacturers skipped important steps or blew safety standards. The COVID-19 vaccines are proven safe and effective, evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For emergency use authorization, the vaccines had to meet the FDA’s scientific standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality.
In an interview, Johnson claimed: “We do not have an approved (COVID) vaccine in America … the Pfizer vaccine available in the U.S. is not FDA approved.”
That is entirely untrue. The Pfizer vaccine was approved for full use on Aug. 23, 2021 by the FDA, even though emergency authorization continues with some subsets of the population.
We rate Johnson’s claim False.