Hillsong Church member who mocked Covid vaccines dies of virus

Hillsong Church member Stephen Harmon posted this photo of himself after he was admitted to hospital with Covid-19 and pneumonia.Stephen Harmon/Instagram

A member of Hillsong Church, who had mocked Covid vaccines in his social media posts over recent months, has tragically died from the virus.

Stephen Harmon, 34, died on Wednesday at the Corona Regional Medical Center near Los Angeles after a month-long battle with the coronavirus.

Harmon had been a vocal opponent of the Covid-19 vaccines, and had recently made numerous jokes boasting about not taking the vaccine.

In one Twitter post in June, Harmon had written: "Got 99 problems but a vax ain't one".

His condition had gradually deteriorated over recent weeks as he was treated for Covid-19 and pneumonia in hospital.

Harmon had remained active on his social media accounts throughout his battle with Covid, and in the days leading up to his tragic death, he had posted photos of himself lying in the hospital bed looking poorly.

He wrote: "Please pray y'all, they really want to intubate me and put me on a ventilator."

It appears as though Harmon had initially hoped to avoid the ventilator, but as his condition deteriorated, in a final tweet on Wednesday he explained to his 7,000 Twitter followers that he had decided to go under intubation.

He tweeted, "Don't know when I'll wake up, please pray."

Harmon had said that despite his battle with the virus, he would still not choose to receive the vaccine, commenting that he believed his faith would protect him instead.

Last month, he mocked Americans' reliance on advice from U.S. disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, saying that he was trusting in his faith more than medical experts.

"When you can't trust the Bible cause it was written by man, but you trust the CDC/Fauci guidelines cause they were written by man. Makes total sense," he posted to his followers on 25 May.

On 30 June, Harmon revealed that he had been hospitalised with Covid-19, and posted numerous photos showing him on a machine helping him breathe.

On 8 July, Harmon wrote: "Biden's door to door vaccine 'surveyors' really should be called JaCovid Witnesses. #keepmovingdork." 

As his condition got worse, in more recent posts he wrote: "Please pray y'all, they really want to intubate me and put me on a ventilator. even the slightest movements and my heart rate skyrockets and oxygen dependency increases. and please, I'm not asking for anyone's opinion on intubation, I'll make my own choice, I'm asking for prayer."

He added, "If you don't have faith that God can heal me over your stupid ventilator then keep the Hell out of my ICU room, there's no room in here for fear or lack of faith!' #ThingsIAmAboutToScream."

In a final tweet on Wednesday, he told his followers that he had decided to be intubated: "I'm choosing to going under intubation, I've fought this thing as hard as I can but unfortunately it's reached a point of critical choice & as much as I hate having to do this I'd rather it be willingness than forced emergency procedure. Don't know when I'll wake up, please pray."

Hillsong founder Brian Houston confirmed news of Harmon's death in a tweet on Thursday, saying: "Ben has just passed on to us the devastating news that our beloved friend, Stephen Harmon has passed away from Covid. Heartbreaking."

Ben is Brian Houston's son, and is also a pastor in Hillsong Church.

In an Instagram post, Houston paid tribute to Harmon, saying: "He was one of the most generous people I know and had so much in front of him.

"He would always turn up to our grandkids soccer games and he will be missed by so many. RIP."

He added that Hillsong Church encourages all its members to "follow the guidance of their doctors."