Republican Georgia governor Brian Kemp has continuously taken a hard line against COVID-19 precautions, including mask and vaccine mandates. In trying to defend his position that education about vaccines is more effective than compulsory actions, Kemp recently uttered this nonsensical quote on a right-wing podcast:
"That is basically how the AIDS vaccine worked. People wouldn't take it early on because it was mandated, they started educating people and now it is doing a lot of good out there," Kemp told firebrand commentator Erick Erickson. "Same scenario, different year that we are dealing with right now."
There is no AIDS vaccine — and hasn't been one since HIV was effectively discovered by scientists 40 years ago. Kemp's statement wasn't just a slip of the tongue; Salon reports Kemp has discussed a so-called AIDS vaccine at least two other times just this year.
Kemp previously used the nonexistent AIDS vaccine to defend his stance against mask mandates. “Well we are not going to have a statewide mask mandate,” he said. “[Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health Dr. Kathleen] Tumi and I believe that they do not work. They did not work with the AIDS vaccine and they’re not going to work with the corona vaccine.”
When reached for comment by journalists, Kemp's representatives claim he meant to reference the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine on Erickson's show. That doesn't quite add up either as HPV vaccines are not mandated everywhere and typically only among children attending public schools.
Kemp is working hard to justify his actions as COVID cases are filling Georgia's hospitals and the state suffers under one of the lowest vax rates in the nation, with only 43 percent of the population vaccinated.