Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Lets Anti-Vaxx Wackjob Explain Vaccine Turns You Into The Fly
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has proven a reliable inside man for COVID-19. Every decision the Republican's made since the pandemic started has only benefitted the spread of the virus. DeSantis was among the first GOP governors to come out against so-called vaccine passports in April — even suing cruise ships for mandating passengers be vaccinated — and now, months later, Florida's vaccination rates lag as the Delta variant pummels the state.
DeSantis is now threatening local governments with substantial fines if they impose vaccine mandates. It's theoretically possible that he could oppose mandates on principle while still encouraging Floridians to get vaccinated, but that's not what happened Monday. DeSantis held a press conference in Gainesville to promote his campaign against the city's vaccine mandates. He lamented the unvaccinated first responders who might lose their jobs, while not mentioning the first responders who've lost their lives because they didn't get vaccinated.
Then he let this goofball on the stage.
False. The COVID vaccine does not change your RNA. When I’m governor, I’ll never stand by and let dangerous disin… https://t.co/uPoeRzGUGx— Charlie Crist (@Charlie Crist)1631573237.0
Darris Friend has worked for the city of Gainesville for more than 20 years. He's not a doctor or anything, but that didn't stop him from sharing his uninformed opinions about the COVID-19 vaccine. It sounded like he was pitching a sci-fi movie.
FRIEND: The vaccine changes your RNA, so, for me, that's a problem.
If the vaccine changed your RNA, it's a problem for everyone, because that would make it a mutagen. Of course, the Federal Drug Administration would never approve a vaccine that altered your RNA or turned your DNA into linguine.
University of South Florida epidemiologist Dr. Jason Salemi and pediatric pulmonologist Dr. Akinyemi Ajayi kindly addressed this nonsense, as if they don't have more important things to do.
"A lot of people are saying, 'I'm not getting the vaccine because it will alter my DNA and RNA.' No, the mRNA breaks down quickly after entering people's cells and is unable to alter your DNA," said Salemi.
"It doesn't change it at all. The interesting thing about the vaccine is all it does is injecting you with a recipe that teaches your body how to create an antibody. The moment your body creates the antibody, the first thing it does is it destroys the recipe. It doesn't enter the nucleus," said Ajayi.
Remember when Senator John McCain corrected the racist old lady who thought Barack Obama was an Arab bogeyman? Rejecting lies and promoting the truth is the minimum we should expect from people who want to lead the nation, but DeSantis fails even that simple test.
DeSantis didn't correct Friend or gently explain that while he might have serious disagreements with the vaccine, it won't turn you into a fucked-up fly creature that doesn't even have wings. No, he just stood there with an expression of smug dopiness on his face. He wasn't shocked into silence, either. That's how he always looks.
Meanwhile, at least 2,448 Floridians have died from COVID-19 over the past week. These were preventable deaths.
Friend further ranted:
"They're taking away our freedom and liberty, little by little. They're using the vaccine for cover. Last year, they took away our religious rights, they're not defending our freedom of speech, and this is just one way to take us to the next step."
DeSantis said nothing. Why would he? The crowd cheered, and he wants their votes. That's all that matters to him. Even though DeSantis is probably safely vaccinated, he'll eagerly defend the “personal choice" of fools to inevitably contract COVID-19 and potentially die.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that that those who are unvaccinated have a five times higher chance of infection and an 11 times higher chance of dying from a disease for which a free and safe vaccine exists.
When McCain corrected a supporter's bigotry and lies in 2008, he was booed. DeSantis and today's GOP feed the hateful boos and ignorant cheers. Why wouldn't they? John McCain never made it to the White House, but Donald Trump did.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."