Former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens has criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci for repeatedly changing his COVID-19 recommendations.
Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief medical advisor, has received criticism from Republican leaders throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with some of them asking him to resign over his handling of COVID-19.
Owens, who frequently "likes" tweets that amplify Republican talking points and that are derogatory to Democrats, offered his opinion on the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director while responding to a headline from conservative media outlet The Blaze about Fauci's recent comment that three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are likely needed for full protection.
Tim tweeted: "He changes what he says over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. So we find out masks don't work and vaccines don't work. So wear 5 masks and get 5 vaccines. ( just so you know I'm vaccinated and I wore a mask, oh yea and I've had Covid )".
Experts have repeatedly said that a COVID-19 vaccine is the single most important tool for preventing infections and protecting against moderate and severe disease. Some variants, such as delta, may be more likely to cause breakthrough infections, but vaccinations have shown protection against symptomatic disease caused by delta. Unvaccinated people are more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 than people who are fully vaccinated. In the United States, 97% of the hospitalizations over the past three months, since delta came on the scene, have been in unvaccinated people. Ninety-nine percent of the people who have died of COVID-19 in the last three months were unvaccinated.
Masks reduce the risk of an infected person's spreading the virus and provide some protection for the wearer against becoming infected. A new study found that increased mask-wearing led to a significant reduction in the percentage of people with COVID-19, based on symptom reporting and SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing. The researchers tested both cloth and surgical masks and found especially strong evidence that surgical masks are effective in preventing COVID-19.
In recent months, Fauci — who has served seven presidents since 1984 — has responded strongly to growing rightwing criticism and conspiracy theories connected to his handling of COVID-19. He told The New York Times in an interview: "It is essential as a scientist that you evolve your opinion and your recommendations based on the data as it evolves. And that's the reason why I say people who then criticize me about that are actually criticizing science."
He added: "The people who are giving the ad hominems are saying, 'Ah, Fauci misled us. First he said no masks, then he said masks.' Well, let me give you a flash. That's the way science works. You work with the data you have at the time."
Two months ago, Owens told Rocking With Jam Man that he wasn't leery about performing with someone or touring with another band that hasn't gotten the shot yet. "You can do what you want. I think it's your prerogative. It doesn't mean that they're not gonna get COVID [even if they're vaccinated]… An Olympic athlete, another one, just went down with COVID, and he was vaccinated.
"Listen, you're supposed to stay safer with it, but I'm not gonna treat anybody different that doesn't get it," he explained. "That's their thing. I got it. It's kind of like if you don't wanna wear your seat belt, you don't have to. I'm still gonna drive in your car with it. I'll wear mine."
As for whether he is concerned about there being another potential lockdown in the future if the number of coronavirus cases increases drastically, Tim said: "No. I do think there could be that. I try to read up on it. Now there's other strains they're talking about and this and that and the other. I mean, still, if people would just use a little common sense and don't go breathing in other people's faces and lick other people's fingers and stuff, we'll be all right. But hopefully [there] won't [be another lockdown]. I'm doing my part. I don't wear my mask anymore, 'cause I don't have to where I'm at. I stay six feet away from people. I got vaccinated. Not that I was one hundred percent sure if I wanted to, but I wanted my career in this business to start back up again. I try to do what I can. Hopefully people will still use common sense. But it does worry me a little bit. I sometimes think the numbers change when they want 'em to change as well," he added, without clarifying who "they" are. "I think if they want 'em to go up, they'll find a way to make 'em go up; if they want 'em to go down, they'll find a way to make 'em go down. Hopefully people will just use common sense and, again, stop coughing and breathing on each other."
In June, Owens spoke to "On The Road To Rock" about how he adapted to strict COVID-related rules and regulations during the coronavirus crisis. He said: "Listen, it is what it is, whatever you think about it. My girlfriend [went to] New York for two months [as a paramedic] and worked when COVID first started, and she's never seen anything like it. So she's experienced this firsthand. But you know what it is? My thing was this: let's just get through it; let's do whatever we have to do to get through it.
"I'm not a snowflake who… I don't wanna wear a mask, and whether they work or not, I got COVID before," the 53-year-vocalist, who lives in Akron, Ohio, continued. "But I'm not a whiner that's gonna whine about wearing a mask. It wasn't that difficult. I wasn't a roofer, and I wasn't digging a ditch in a mask. I actually wore my mask the whole time I was in the gym — on the elliptical and the treadmill I wore a mask. Because, first of all, wearing a mask I don't really have to talk to any jackasses half the time either, so they don't recognize me, so that makes it even better."
Owens did not reveal exactly when he came down with COVID-19, but he said he did his part in trying to protect others from possible infection.
"I just had the philosophy of I will do whatever I have to do to get us back together," he said. "Whether I believe it, whether I think it's right, whether I think it's wrong, politically — left, right, middle, whatever the hell we're talking about — let's just do whatever we have to do to get it going on. And you know what? Everybody just used common sense. My thing was back then if you are sick, stay home. If you don't wanna wear a mask [or] if you're a masker and you're worried about people without masks, then stay home.
"I miss sports," he continued. "I'm a big sports guy, and music, so my philosophy was whatever we need to do to get us back in the right direction, let's do it… Even now, when the numbers go up… They're gonna go up at times, and then this new strain is gonna hit. It is what it is."
Owens added that he is optimistic about the pandemic situation and the return of live music in the near future.
"Listen, we got hit with something we'd never seen before, and it was a stress situation; you don't know how to handle it," he said. "But you know what? Numbers are gonna go up and down, they'll move around, and you still use common sense. I mean, I'm not gonna go to the grocery store and lick the back of somebody's head. I'm gonna stay six feet from 'em and not be around somebody who's coughing. It's just common sense stuff. You do what you've gotta do. But I think we're there now. I think we're in a better position where you feel a lot safer going out there now."
In the past, Tim had vowed to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as he was able to.
Various polls have consistently find that Democrats are much more likely to report having been vaccinated than Republicans, and Republicans are much more likely to say that they definitely do not want to get vaccinated.
Owens is currently in a new band called KK'S PRIEST with ex-JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing, along with guitarist A.J. Mills (HOSTILE),bassist Tony Newton (VOODOO SIX) and drummer Sean Elg (DEATHRIDERS, CAGE).
KK'S PRIEST's debut album, "Sermons Of The Sinner", will be released on October 1 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records.