Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate and conspiracy theorist Allen West has spent the past couple of days going on a tirade against the COVID-19 vaccine ― all while being hospitalized with the coronavirus.
The unvaccinated former congressman tweeted on Sunday that he and his wife had received monoclonal antibody treatments at an emergency room in Dallas a day earlier. He said “the results were immediate,” although health care providers kept him at the hospital due to concerns over his COVID-19 pneumonia and low blood oxygen levels. His wife, who is vaccinated, was allowed to be discharged from the hospital and go home.
But despite benefiting from an intensive and likely expensive medical intervention by trained professionals ― one he may not have needed had he chosen to get vaccinated ― the right-wing figure went on Twitter to attack vaccines, which are based on years of research and proven to lessen the likelihood and severity of a COVID-19 infection.
“I can attest that, after this experience, I am even more dedicated to fighting against vaccine mandates,” West tweeted. “Instead of enriching the pockets of Big Pharma and corrupt bureaucrats and politicians, we should be advocating the monoclonal antibody infusion therapy.”
In fact, pharmaceutical giants like Regeneron and GlaxoSmithKline manufacture monoclonal antibody injections. The treatment is also expensive, while the government has made the vaccine free to the public to increase its accessibility.
On Monday, West continued his tirade from his hospital bed by accusing the federal government of “manipulative deception” and “running propaganda commercials” of families saying they wish their unvaccinated loved ones who died of COVID-19 would have agreed to get the shot.
He also endorsed unproven, often dangerous methods of “treating” COVID-19 ― such as by using the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin and the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. Despite West’s claims, neither drug has been proven to treat the virus.
West announced on Saturday that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19 and that he would likely be admitted to the hospital after his chest X-rays detected COVID-19 pneumonia. Before getting hospitalized, West acknowledged that he was taking hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin ― the very drugs he falsely claimed would help him combat a serious infection.
West was a congressman in Florida before becoming chair of the Texas Republican Party, a title he gave up a month before announcing in July that he would be challenging Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott is running for a third term and has been endorsed by Donald Trump.
West, a tea party favorite, rose in the GOP ranks by becoming a lightning rod for controversy, at one point accusing Democrats of having as many as 80 communists in their House caucus while he was a congressman. In Texas, he began attacking Republicans as well, calling the GOP speaker of the state House a “traitor” for working across the aisle.
West also led a protest outside Abbott’s mansion over COVID-19 restrictions in October 2020, criticizing the governor’s executive orders that included a statewide mask mandate and lockdowns. Those restrictions are no longer in place ― in fact, Abbott signed an executive order on Monday that prohibits all COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the state.