F1 driver Lewis Hamilton reposted a video on Instagram expressing anti-vaccination sentiment, leading to outrage from fans on social media as anti-vaxx sentiment is a top concern for experts looking to achieve Covid-19 herd immunity via vaccination.
Hamilton reposted a video by actor and former Vine star Andrew Bachelor on Monday morning showing Bill Gates discussing progress of a Covid-19 vaccine; the video had a caption written across it that read: “I remember when I told my first lie.”
The video was met by widespread criticism among fans who say the six-time F1 champion is unaware of his influence (he has 18.3 million Instagram followers) and that his promotion of anti-vaxx views could have dangerous repercussions; some claim they will no longer be fans.
Hamilton, who made $54 million in 2019 by Forbes’ estimation, has since deleted the video and posted an Instagram story to “clarify” his views: “I’m not against a vaccine and no doubt it will be important in the fight against coronavirus.”
“However,” he added, “after watching the video, I felt it showed that there is still a lot of uncertainty about the side effects most importantly and how it is going to be funded. I may not always get my posting right. I’m only human but I’m learning as we go.”
Though he does not apologize in the story, he says: “I hadn’t actually seen the comment attached so that is totally my fault and I have a lot of respect for the charity work Bill Gates does.”
Still, others on social media applaud Hamilton for espousing anti-vaxx views:
Hamilton is the “most marketable driver in the sport,” according to Forbes, contracted by Vodafone, Tommy Hilfiger and others.
The driver is also an ardent supporter of Black Lives Matter and a vegan.
“I may not always get my posting right, I’m only human but I’m learning as we go. Sending you positivity,” wrote Hamilton on his Instagram story after deleting the video of Gates.
$1.95 billion. That’s how much the U.S. paid Pfizer and BioNTech to get 100 million doses of the companies’ joint Covid-19 vaccine, per Forbes.
As the race to bring a Covid-19 vaccine to market rages on, anti-vaxx sentiment seems to be on the rise. Celebrities like Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 tennis player in the world, and rapper M.I.A. have similarly taken flak for their anti-vaxx stances. Meanwhile, a multidisciplinary group of experts published a report with recommendations to combat vaccine skepticism that involves tactics like appointing community spokespeople and stationing vaccine outposts at familiar spots like churches and community centers.