“There’s no question that people who are unvaccinated are the main contributor to the continued transmission of COVID-19 and every transmission presents an opportunity for the virus to mutate to a more contagious and more lethal variant.” — Dr. Remington
Madison, Wis. — A new report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed that Ron Johnson claimed on a right-wing radio show that vaccinated Americans are prolonging the pandemic and are the cause for the most recent surge in COVID cases.
It’s the latest example of how Johnson’s irresponsible rhetoric is prolonging the coronavirus pandemic and putting people’s lives and Wisconsin’s economy in harm’s way. See more below:
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Despite guidance from health officials, Ron Johnson says vaccinating people during a pandemic ‘could be dangerous’
MADISON – U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson suggested this week that vaccinated Americans could be perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic and that distributing vaccines during a pandemic “could be dangerous.”
The contradictory comments from Wisconsin’s highest-profile Republican come as state health officials prepare to distribute booster vaccine shots to help combat the worst effects of a surge of new COVID-19 cases. The new infections are being fueled by a more transmissible variant of the virus that took hold as vaccine rates stagnated.
In a Tuesday appearance on the John Solomon Reports podcast, Johnson suggested vaccinated Americans could be worsening the pandemic though recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services show the unvaccinated are more likely to become infected.
It is the latest example of comments from Johnson on COVID-19 that are contrary to advice from health professionals and scientists. His comments have been criticized by some medical professionals and Democrats as undermining efforts to get the pandemic under control.
Johnson said recent data from Israel and the United Kingdom means “this does not look like a pandemic of the unvaxxed, this looks like vaccine failure.”
Patrick Remington, a former epidemiologist for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s preventive medicine residency program, said the opposite is true.
“This has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated, worsened by people taking risks, such as gathering together indoors, without masks,” Remington said. “The vaccine has been very effective in preventing serious illness, and death. The fact that the delta variant is so much more contagious, means that we cannot rely on the vaccine alone, but need to reduce the risks of getting infected and infecting others.”
In the podcast interview, Johnson also said pushing vaccinations during a pandemic could be “dangerous.”
Remington said Johnson’s comments could keep people away from vaccines by being interpreted as the vaccines being the problem and not the fact people are more frequently gathering in crowds and not wearing masks.
Remington said Johnson in his comments on COVID-19 at times presents a misunderstanding of nuances in research and in this case implies “that it’s a direct effect of the vaccine and not potentially an indirect effect.”
“There’s no question that people who are unvaccinated are the main contributor to the continued transmission of COVID-19 and every transmission presents an opportunity for the virus to mutate to a more contagious and more lethal variant,” Remington said.
State data show unvaccinated Wisconsinites are four times more likely to become infected and nine times as likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than vaccinated residents.