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In testimony to the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson questioned whether government documents would reveal “Fauci’s attempt to hide his agency’s role in funding dangerous research that might have led to the creation of the deadly coronavirus.” 

He added, “We don’t know, because the agencies won’t provide the unredacted documents.”

That same day on the Vicki McKenna radio show, Johnson criticized the government’s response to COVID-19 and spread COVID-related falsehoods.

Johnson falsely stated that Fauci said in a recent paper that the COVID-19 vaccine “doesn’t work.” In fact, Fauci’s paper stated vaccines do not stop all infections but do prevent the most serious symptoms.

Johnson also claimed COVID-19 vaccines caused “a million and a half adverse effects.” The claim is based on the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. However that system provides unverified suspected incidents — not proof of injuries.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Ron Johnson Senator from Wisconsin: U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson testimony

IHeart: The Vicki McKenna Show

AP News: Fauci: recent paper doesn’t suggest COVID vaccines ineffective

Cell: Rethinking next-generation vaccines for coronaviruses, influenzaviruses, and other respiratory viruses

USA Today: Fact check: Reports of adverse events due to COVID-19 vaccines are unverified

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Erin Gretzinger / Wisconsin WatchReporting Intern

Erin Gretzinger joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2022. She is a journalism and French major at UW-Madison and will graduate in spring 2023. Erin previously worked for the Wisconsin State Journal as a reporting intern and served as the 2021-22 editor-in-chief at The Badger Herald. She is a recipient of the Jon Wolman Scholarship, the Sigrid Schultz Scholarship and the Joseph Sicherman Award Fund for her academic and reporting work.