The new coronavirus variant, Omicron—which was first detected by virologists in South Africa—has sparked concerns among public health experts. The United States quickly imposed travel restrictions on certain African countries. Scientists say that much about the new variant remains unknown. But it’s apparently not too soon for members of the US Congress to begin spouting ridiculous conspiracy theories about it.
In a tweet Saturday, Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), who served as White House physician for Barack Obama and Donald Trump before running for office on a hard-MAGA platform, dubbed the new strain “the Midterm Election Variant.”
Here comes the MEV – the Midterm Election Variant! They NEED a reason to push unsolicited nationwide mail-in ballots. Democrats will do anything to CHEAT during an election – but we're not going to let them!
— Ronny Jackson (@RonnyJacksonTX) November 27, 2021
According to this latest crackpot theory, Democrats are going to use Omicron to “push” mail-in ballots during the midterm elections, which will supposedly enable massive amounts to cheating.
There’s a lot to unpack here. When does Jackson think the midterm elections are? How could the Democrats be using a new variant discovered in November 2021 to impact elections that are a full year away? Are the South African doctors who reported it to the World Health Organization also part of Democrats’ plan to steal the elections? What about the other countries Omicron has been detected in? What role do they play?
Jackson’s tweet manages to hit on two conspiracy theories popular among far right: that the pandemic is somehow being manipulated by Democrats for political gain, and that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. It should go without saying that both of these theories are false. But as we approach the two-year mark in the pandemic, much of the world remains unvaccinated and patience is wearing thin. Ignorant tweets like Jackson’s will only fuel more conspiracy theories about the virus and endanger more lives.