Ron Johnson Against Vaccine Mandate, Unless Disease Is 'Incredibly Deadly'

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) has said he is not in favor of vaccine mandates, though suggested an "incredibly deadly disease" could change his mind.

Johnson was speaking to Fox News' Brian Kilmeade, who was guest hosting Laura Ingraham's The Ingraham Angle on Friday, when he was asked about the possibility of requiring COVID vaccines.

There have been than 610,000 COVID-related deaths in the U.S. over the course of the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while there have been more than 34 million infections.

Kilmeade discussed the pandemic with Johnson and the topic turned to mandatory vaccination.

"Could you ever get behind a vaccine mandate for everybody?" Kilmeade asked.

Johnson replied: "No, not unless there's some incredibly deadly disease. I mean, much higher infection-fatality rates than we have with COVID.

"We don't know the final infection-fatality rate but right now it's looking like it's not going to be much more than double a bad season of flu."

He went on: "I'm not downplaying this. We've had 600,000 excess deaths over the last year.

"But you know one thing we didn't do, Brian, and this was a huge failing on the part of our health agencies, is we didn't explore and research, early treatment with the cheap, repurposed generic drugs."

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the fatality rate from COVID-19 in the U.S. is 186.49 per 100,000 population. The CDC website notes that in 2019, the fatality rate from influenza was 1.8 per 100,000 population, while the fatality rate from influenza and pneumonia was 15.2 per 100,000.

Estimated deaths from influenza during the flu season from October 1, 2019 to April 4, 2020 were between 24,000 and 62,000. The number of flu illnesses for that period are estimated at between 39 million and 56 million.

An article from Johns Hopkins Medicine most recently updated on July 29 also noted that the mortality rate from COVID "is thought to be substantially higher (possibly 10 times or more) than that of most strains of the flu."

Earlier in the interview, Johnson criticized federal health agencies, including the CDC, arguing the recommendations they're making are not supported by the science.

"The American public is losing faith in our federal health agencies-and that's a real shame. If there's one part of government, other than the Defense Department, you'd like to have faith in, it'd be the federal health agencies, and they've lost the trust of the American public," Johnson said.

"Because they're not making any sense. They're flip-flopping on issues, whether it's masks, they're not backing up their pronouncements with science."

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Friday that there will be no national vaccine mandate following an interview on Fox News where she suggested the Biden administration was "looking into" the possibility.

"There will be no nationwide mandate. I was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. There will be no federal mandate," Walensky said on Twitter.

Newsweek has asked Senator Johnson for further comment.

Johnson Asks Question at a Senate Committee
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) asks questions during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs & Senate Rules and Administration joint hearing to discuss the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2021 in Washington, DC. Johnson has said he is opposed to a vaccine mandate unless there is an "incredibly deadly" disease. Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images