The HBO late night host also drew mixed reactions on Twitter over a joke referencing John F. Kennedy's assassination.
John Oliver wasted little time diving into his main story on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, spending most of his show debunking the myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines.
Among the conspiracy theories he took on:
Bill Gates is trying to implant microchips into the population.
Oliver's response: "That rumor is based on the fact that the Gates Foundation funded research years ago, which is frequently taken out of context. In that study, researchers looked into created an invisible ink that could potentially be injected into a vaccine in order for populations, like refugee children, to be able to retain vaccine records without paperwork. Over time, the original context was lost, contorted and kind of 'telephoned' its way into becoming 'Something Something Bill Gates Microchips' on Facebook. If you think about it for just a second, it doesn't make sense. Because if your main concern is that Bill Gates could use microchips to track you, he can already do that — that's what your fucking phone is."
The vaccine was created too quickly and people are being "used as guinea pigs for a rushed, untested vaccine," as Oliver put it.
Oliver noted that researchers had already been working on vaccines against other coronaviruses for years, so they had a "significant head start" when COVID-19 hit. "Operation Warp Speed," as it was called, was not about rushing the science but instead cutting through the bureaucratic red tape that could have potentially delayed the availability of a vaccine.
The vaccine changes DNA because of the Messenger RNA used.
Oliver showed a clip of Infowars' Alex Jones arguing that the vaccines "create plaque in your brain and gives you Alzheimer's" and that anyone taking it will be dead in 10 years. Oliver noted there is no evidence supporting that. He also cited a report saying the mRNA does not enter a person's genome.
Oliver also addressed other myths, including that the vaccines use aborted fetus cells and that they can cause infertility, citing reports and studies debunking both of those theories. He also shot down the idea that the risks from the vaccine are greater than the risks of the disease itself.
Oliver then acknowledged that there are side effects, but the most extreme, like anaphylaxis, are extremely rare.
"The key thing to remember is that no side effect of the vaccine is worse than the alternative: COVID, a disease that has killed over 500,000 people in the U.S. alone while, once again, to date, the vaccine has been proven to kill exactly zero," Oliver said.
Oliver went on: "It is more than natural to have questions, but there are reassuring answers out there, and anyone throwing out questions without acknowledging that probably has another agenda entirely." In addition to Jones, he pointed to Fox News' Tucker Carlson as an example.
Oliver said that some politicians are trying to convince their constituents to get the vaccine in unusual ways. He showed a clip of Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy singing and then urging viewers to get the vaccine.
"I don't love that. And not just because it was the worst thing to come out of a Kennedy's mouth since the back of a Kennedy's head," Oliver said in a joke referencing the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The joke drew mixed reactions on Twitter, with some finding it funny and others calling it "distasteful" and "terrible."
He added: "The truth is, that probably didn't convince anyone." He noted that studies have shown people are not typically convinced by stars or politicians telling them to get the vaccine. To that end, he told viewers they had a better chance of persuading people they know who are skeptical and urged them to talk to those people about getting the vaccine.
Watch the story below.