- Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday called comments made by GOP Sen. Ron Johnson "preposterous."
- During a podcast that aired Wednesday on World AIDS Day, Johnson said Fauci "overhyped" the AIDS epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic.
- I don't have any clue what he's talking about," Fauci said during an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Sunday responded to claims by GOP Sen. Ron Johnson that he "overhyped" the AIDS crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson, a senator from Wisconsin, made the remark during an episode of Fox News host Brian Kilmeade's podcast that aired Wednesday, which was also World AIDS Day.
"Fauci did the exact same thing with AIDS. He overhyped it," Johnson told Kilmeade, after claiming that US officials were attempting to use COVID-19 to create a culture of fear.
"He created all kinds of fear, saying it could affect the entire population when it couldn't," Johnson said without provided examples, according The Advocate. "And he's doing, he's using the exact same playbook with COVID, ignoring therapy, pushing a vaccine."
Fauci pushed back against the comments, saying he didn't understand what Johnson was talking about.
"Jake, how do you respond to something as preposterous as that?" Fauci asked host Jake Tapper during an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union." "Overhyping AIDS that's killed over 750,000 Americans and 36 million people worldwide? How do you overhype that?"
—The Recount (@therecount) December 5, 2021
"Overhyping COVID that's already killed 780,000 Americans over 5 million people worldwide. So I don't have any clue what he's talking about," Fauci added.
"I don't think he does, either," Tapper responded.
Fauci, who also works as the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, in a documentary earlier this year said he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from spearheading the US response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 80s and 90s.
"It was all bad, bad, worse, bad, worse, bad, worse," he said in the film, which began streaming on Disney+ in October. "It was just so unbelievably frustrating when you're used to being able to fix things and you're just not really fixing anything."
As Insider's Aria Bendix noted, Fauci, who has been a frequent target of right-wing figures during the COVID-19 pandemic, also faced backlash during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. That backlash came from activists who believed Fauci was not working quickly enough to begin clinical trails, according to the previous report.