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Jimmy Kimmel eviscerates Mike Pence over coronavirus response: 'What's his plan, abstinence?'

Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at Mike Pence on Wednesday night, after the vice-president was put in charge of the US coronavirus response.

Donald Trump on Wednesday announced his VP would be the one coordinating the efforts to stop the virus from spreading.

“Why is Mike Pence in charge?” Kimmel wondered on his show Jimmy Kimmel Live. “What is his plan to stop the virus, abstinence?”

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After playing a clip of the press conference in which the president announced Pence would be leading the US coronavirus policy, Kimmel asked: “Didn’t it seem like Pence didn’t know that was going to happen?

“I hope the virus isn’t spread by kissing a**, because if is, they’ve got the wrong guy.”

In a 2002 interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Pence, then an Indiana congressman, endorsed abstinence and claimed ”condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases”, according to a transcript published by the network at the time.

“I just simply believe the only truly safe sex, Wolf, as the president believes, is no sex,” Pence said. “And we ought to, with leaders of the stature of the secretary of state, we ought to be sending a message to kids across the country and the opportunity had across the world that abstinence is the best choice for young people. “

According to the CDC, “consistent and correct use” of latex condoms reduces the risk of STDs, and the effectiveness of condoms “has been demonstrated by both laboratory and epidemiologic studies”.

Pence’s appointment to direct the US coronavirus response has been met with criticism pointing to the vice-president’s record on public health.

Bennie Thompson, a Democratic representative in Mississippi and the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that putting Pence, “someone with no public health expertise, in charge of the response will not instill confidence with the American people and raises questions about the administration’s ability to coordinate an effective response to a complex public health threat”.

During his time as Indiana’s governor, Pence faced criticism for his response to a public health crisis in the southern part of the state.

In 2015, Scott County saw the number of people infected with HIV skyrocket, with nearly 200 people testing positive for the virus in a span of months. Indiana law at the time prohibited needle exchanges, exacerbating the outbreak, which primarily infected intravenous users of the painkiller Opana.

Pence had long opposed needle exchanges but was eventually persuaded to issue an executive order allowing one in Scott County. Despite his own misgivings — Pence said he didn’t support the exchanges as an “anti-drug policy” — he signed a law allowing the state government to approve them on a case-by-case basis.

Additional reporting by agencies