Joe Rogan, host of one of the most popular Spotify podcasts with millions of downloads every month, has drawn the attention of Dr. Anthony Fauci after claiming that young, healthy people do not need to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Are you healthy?” Rogan told fellow comedian Dave Smith during the April 23 episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience.” “Are you a healthy person? Like, look, don’t do anything stupid, but you should take care of yourself. You should—if you’re a healthy person and you’re exercising all the time and you’re young and you’re eating well, like, I don’t think you need to worry about this.”
While Rogan acknowledged that the vaccines were safe “for the most part,” he insisted that they are not necessary for young people. The podcast host cited his two children, both of whom contracted the virus but experienced only mild symptoms.
“Both my children got the virus. It was nothing,” Rogan explained. “I mean, I hate to say that if someone’s children died from this. I’m very sorry that that happened. I’m not in any way diminishing that. But I’m saying the personal experience that my children had with COVID was nothing.”
Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious diseases expert and chief medical adviser to the White House, disagreed with Rogan’s stance, referring to it as “incorrect.”
“You can get infected and will get infected if you put yourself at risk,” Fauci told NBC’s “Today” Wednesday. “So if you want to only worry about yourself and not society, then that’s OK. But if you’re saying to yourself, ‘Even if I get infected, I could do damage to somebody else even if I have no symptoms at all,’ [then] that’s the reason why you’ve got to be careful and get vaccinated.”
There has been a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations among younger people across the country over the past few months. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the U.S. and globally during this pandemic, many of which are more contagious than the initial strain. Rogan’s vaccine disinformation ignores these figures as well as the scores of young athletes suffering from long-term side effects related to COVID-19. Even the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where Rogan does color commentary on occasion, has seen several of its fighters contemplate retirement following lengthy battles with the virus.
Rogan’s vaccine disinformation is the latest example of the popular podcast host’s problematic comments since signing a $100 million exclusivity deal with Spotify. Over the past year, Rogan has spread conspiracy theories, criticized the transgender community by falsely claiming that “dumb people” can be praised simply for “transferring their gender,” and stated that he doesn’t plan to take the COVID-19 vaccine because he didn’t feel he “needed it.” Dr. Danielle Belardo, a cardiologist based in Newport Beach, California, called the controversial comedian a “harm to public health” and drew on a comparison to Gwyneth Paltrow’s pseudoscience-touting “wellness” brand by referring to his show as “Goop marketed for men.”