News Outspoken US vaccine sceptic Phil Valentine dies of COVID-19

Outspoken US vaccine sceptic Phil Valentine dies of COVID-19

Radio host Phil Valentine regretted not being a more vocal advocate of the COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: AP
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A conservative US talk show host from Tennessee who was a vaccine sceptic until he was hospitalised with COVID-19 has died aged 61.

Nashville radio station SuperTalk 99.7 WTN confirmed Phil Valentine’s death in a tweet on Saturday.

Valentine had been a sceptic of coronavirus vaccines.

But after he tested positive for COVID-19, and prior to his hospitalisation, he told his listeners to consider, “If I get this COVID thing, do I have a chance of dying from it?” If so, he advised them to get vaccinated.

He said he chose not to get vaccinated because he thought he probably wouldn’t die.

After Valentine was moved into a critical care unit, Mark Valentine said his brother regretted that “he wasn’t a more vocal advocate of the vaccination”.

“I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories’,” Mark Valentine told The Tennessean on July 25.

“He regrets not being more adamant about getting the vaccine.”

Phil Valentine had been a radio personality since he was 20 and became a popular conservative host by railing against a proposed state income tax, the Tennessean reported.

The program grew into a nationally syndicated show that aired for 12 years on as many as 100 stations, according to the newspaper.

At the end of the run, Valentine signed a three-year deal in 2019 that kept him on 99.7 WTN.

“Phil Valentine was a visionary for the conservative movement, and he made an enormous impact on the lives of many Tennesseans,” US Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted.

“My deepest condolences and prayers are with Phil’s wife, Susan, and his family. May they be comforted and surrounded by love during this difficult time.”