CNN’S Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Tucker Carlson’s anti-vaccine conspiracy theory: “It's absolutely, 100% false."

Gupta: “We could be in a much better position if it were not for people like Tucker Carlson”

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Citation From the May 6, 2021, edition of CNN’s New Day with John Berman and Brianna Keilar

JOHN BERMAN (CO-ANCHOR): So, Sanjay, look, I’ve asked this question before about Tucker Carlson — does he want his viewers to live? Last night he went on TV, and you know, he flowered it up with, “Oh, I’m just asking questions, I’m just asking questions.” But if you watched it, you were left with the impression this guy with no medical degree was suggesting that vaccines are killing thousands of people. Now, I don’t know why he did it — again, maybe it's just to get attention. But I think we need scientists —who he could’ve had on to talk about it — doctors like you, please set the record straight.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA (CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT): It's so reckless, John. It's so dangerous what he’s doing. And I’m glad you didn't actually show the clip, because I think that's the wrong thing to do. You know, I can't tell with him, whether he's just so smart or so dumb, I’m just not sure at this point. But it is very reckless and dangerous. What he's talking about is this system that is an open-label system, where anybody can basically report an adverse event from the vaccine — anybody can do that. And what he's done is basically looked at these open-system, adverse reporting systems, and said, hey, look, this suggests that 30 people a day are dying of the vaccine. Absolutely not true.

First of all, let me just show you the graphic of the impact overall of these vaccines. We know that a certain number of people die every day, for all sorts of different reasons. We also know, if you take a look there at that right curve that the — after the vaccination program started, death rates plummeted among the elderly. We know the impact of that.

This is the same reporting system that basically found a one-in-a-million likelihood of someone having an adverse event from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That's how they initially found that. The reports came in, CDC evaluates it, and they say "Whoa, something going on here, let's pause Johnson & Johnson."

What Tucker Carlson is saying is that dozens of people are dying every day and that the CDC and FDA are turning a blind eye to it. It's absolutely, 100% false.

It is so frustrating because, you know, we've been stutter-starting our way through reporting on this pandemic for a year, because instead of continuing to build the knowledge tree, we've had to continuously fact check and correct misinformation. It's been so frustrating as a scientific reporter, and it's still happening. In the midst of what is arguably one of the greatest scientific achievements that we've had in, you know, maybe ever, these vaccines, we are still stutter-stopping our way through, you know, what is happening here. We could be in a much better position if it were not for people like Tucker Carlson who continue to embolden this vaccine hesitance. It's really — it's really very irritating. COVID, a disease that didn't exist two years ago, was the second or third leading cause of death in the United States. We have a chance to dramatically change that around.

I have relatives in India who are sick. I have a relative who died for want of vaccines in other parts of the world. People are on their hands and knees begging for these vaccines, and here we are throwing shade at it in order to embolden this vaccine hesitance. So, look, look at the science, look at the numbers, understand what that reporting system is, a reporting system that caught a literally one-in-a-million problem, it’s not turning a blind eye to 30 deaths a day, which is what Tucker Carlson seemed to be suggesting.

BERMAN: I was going to say, I’m sorry, I wanted to thank Sanjay, but also just say how heartbreaking and infuriating it is to hear you talk about losing relatives or having relatives sick for want of a vaccine — that some guy goes on TV and throws shades on it. Really, I — and you know, Sanjay, you don't get mad, but I can see that it really, it really is pushing you over the edge.

GUPTA: It's so infuriating. I mean, I have to say, I look at the number of lives that have been saved, and it's something to really celebrate, these vaccines. Again, we showed that graph of the plummeting death rates in nursing homes. I mean, they were where so many of these deaths were happening. And then I'm still getting questions from people who probably hear from Tucker Carlson or others even, who then ask me, “Was it true, the vaccine is causing people to die?” And I just — it's constantly correcting the record. How do we grow as a society and grow our knowledge tree, if we have to keep doing that? It's — yes, it's maddening, it’s very frustrating.

BERMAN: Look and the Murdochs have to answer for this. You know, [Fox News board member] Paul Ryan has to answer for this. A lot of people have to answer for this at this point, because this is happening every night. Thanks, Sanjay.

Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch received his first COVID-19 vaccination in December 2020. However, Tucker Carlson and other Fox News hosts have continued to undermine the public vaccination campaign.