Hakeem Jeffries
Hakeem JeffriesREUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo

House Democratic Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) on Sunday blasted Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who claimed that COVID-19 was “ethnically targeted” to spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people.

"The disgusting use of a vile antisemitic trope and unhinged xenophobic conspiracy theory by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is unacceptable and unconscionable,” Jeffries said in a statement.

“Hate crimes directed at the Jewish and Asian- American communities have skyrocketed in recent years. The dangerous language used by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. risks fanning the flames of violence against our Jewish and Asian-American brothers and sisters. It should be uniformly condemned," he added.

Kennedy reportedly made the comments at a press event at a New York restaurant.

"Because of the genetic structure of the H2 receptors, which are different among different receptors, COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people," he said, as quoted by The New York Post.

Kennedy continued, "The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese. We don't know if that was deliberately targeted, but there are papers out that show the racial and ethnic differentials and the impact of that."

Kennedy later responded to The New York Post and claimed that "the story is mistaken".

"I have never, ever suggested that the COVID-19 virus was targeted to spare Jews," he explained, adding, "I accurately pointed out — during an off-the-record conversation — that the US and other governments are developing ethnically targeted bioweapons and that a 2021 study of the COVID-19 virus shows that COVID-19 appears to disproportionately affect certain races since the furin cleave docking site is most compatible with Blacks and Caucasians and least compatible with ethnic Chinese, Finns, and Ashkenazi Jews.”

“In that sense, it serves as a kind of proof of concept for ethnically targeted bioweapons. I do not believe and never implied that the ethnic effect was deliberately engineered," he added.