WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Anthony Fauci on Sunday said Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) comments that the infectious diseases expert “overhyped” the AIDS epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic are “preposterous,” adding, “I don’t have any clue of what he’s talking about.”
Asked about Johnson’s comments by co-host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Fauci said he did not know how to respond to such a remark considering the high death tolls caused by both AIDS and COVID-19.
“How do you respond to something as preposterous as that? Overhyping AIDS? It’s killed over 750,000 Americans and 36 million people worldwide. How do you overhype that? Overhyping COVID? It’s already killed 780,000 Americans and over 5 million people worldwide,” Fauci said.
“So I don’t have any clue of what he’s talking about,” he added.
During an interview with Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade on “The Brian Kilmeade Show” on Wednesday, Johnson said Fauci, who helped lead research into AIDS in the 1980s, “overhyped” the epidemic and claimed that the nation’s top infectious diseases expert is doing the same for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Discussing the omicron variant, Johnson accused individuals in the U.S. of trying to “create a state of fear” to “maintain controls” amid the pandemic before turning to Fauci.
“By the way, Fauci did the same exact thing with AIDS. He overhyped it. He created all kinds of fear, saying it could infect the entire population when it couldn’t, and he’s doing, he’s using the exact same playbook with COVID: ignoring therapy, pushing a vaccine,” Johnson said.
Tapper noted that Facui was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President George W. Bush for his leadership amid the AIDS crisis.