US Senator Ron Johnson says COVID-19 conference call comments taken out of context

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson said Friday that comments he made earlier this week to a lawyer who falsely claimed COVID-19 vaccines cause AIDS were taken out of context.

In a Zoom conference call with Johnson on Sunday who was later uploaded to the Rumble video website, Colorado attorney Todd Callender said “the injections caused vaccine-induced AIDS.” There is no medical evidence to support this claim, but Johnson, in response, said “everything you say may be true”.

“Right now, the public views vaccines as largely safe and effective,” he said on the conference call. “Until we get a bigger percentage of the population with their eyes open to, ‘Whoa, these vaccine injuries are real, why?’ – you know, it has to be step by step.”

At an event in Milwaukee on Friday, Johnson said the conversation was misreported.

“It was just a disposable line, okay?” says Johnson. “I don’t believe the vaccine gives AIDS. I never did. I never said that.”

Johnson said the conference call was meant to be private and he was unaware it was being recorded.

On Tuesday, Johnson wrote on Twitter that he would continue to “fight for transparency.”

Johnson continues to spread misleading information about vaccines. He said on Friday that the vaccines had “definitely caused injury”.

“I’m not an anti-vaxxer by any means,” said Johnson, who in March last year said he was not planning to get a COVID-19 shot. “I am ready to change my approach based on real information.”

He cited a federal database that tracks health events that occur after vaccinations. As NPR previously reported, many of these events are coincidental and the database does not establish a causal relationship.

“The deaths associated with the VAERS system with the COVID vaccine far exceed anything we’ve ever seen with the flu vaccine,” Johnson said.

Last June, Johnson hosted a roundtable where people who experienced side effects from COVID-19 vaccines could share their stories. The event received significant criticism from health care experts and government officials.

Johnson claimed that vaccines are not completely safe and supported so-called COVID-19 treatments such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Health organizations do not support these claims.

Vaccine misinformation has run rampant during the pandemic. Serious side effects from COVID-19 vaccines are possible, but rare, according to the CDC.

Michael P. Boser