Dr. Anthony Fauci on Monday said that he would be spending Christmas with his family, and encouraged others to do the same, after saying over the weekend that it was too soon to tell if Americans could spend the holiday together.
“I will be spending Christmas with my family. I encourage people — to have a good, normal Christmas with your family,” he told CNN host Kate Bolduan.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the chief medical advisor to Joe Biden, called reports quoting what he said on Sunday “disinformation.”
“I said something over the weekend that was taken completely out of context,” Fauci told Bolduan. “I was asked what could we predict for this winter for like December and Christmas.”
In fact, on NBC’s Face the Nation, Fauci was not asked what his “predictions” were. He was specifically asked if Americans would be able to “gather for Christmas” this year—a question many observers found to be ridiculous on its face.
“But we can gather for Christmas, or is it just too soon to tell?” asked host Margaret Brennan.
“You know, Margaret, it’s just too soon to tell,” Fauci replied, accepting the absurd premise that it was up to him whether or not Americans could celebrate Christmas with their loved ones. “We’ve just got to concentrate on continuing to get those numbers down, and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what needs to be done,” he added.
REPORTER: “But we can gather for Christmas or it’s just too soon to tell?”
ANTHONY FAUCI: “It’s just too soon to tell” pic.twitter.com/5PjevW64DX
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 3, 2021
After a media backlash, Fauci tried to strike a different tone on Monday.
“I said you hold off on that (cancelling Christmas). I said, ‘we just don’t know’ because we’ve seen slopes that go down, and then go back up,” Fauci explained, adding: The best way to assure that we’ll be in good shape as we head toward the winter, would be to get more and more people vaccinated.”
Fauci went on to lash out at his critics for “misinterpreting” him, and stressed that he encourages vaccinated people to spend time with their families at Christmas—the implication being that he wants unvaccinated Americans to spend the holidays alone.
“That was misinterpreted as me saying we can’t spend Christmas with our families, which was absolutely not the case. I will be spending Christmas with my family. I encourage people—particularly the vaccinated people who are protected—to have a good, normal Christmas with your family,” he said.
“Just the way all of the other disinformation goes around, you say something, talking about a landmark time, and it gets misinterpreted that I’m saying you can’t spend family Christmas time, which is nonsense—you can, ” he said.
Just one day after saying that it's "too soon to tell" if families can gather for Christmas, Dr. Fauci flip flops once again:
“I will be spending Christmas with my family. I encourage people — to have a good, normal Christmas with your family.” pic.twitter.com/j3EcrgNbEz
— X Strategies LLC (@XStrategiesLLC) October 4, 2021
Fauci said that we are living in an “age of misinformation and disinformation” during a virtual lecture for McGill University on Friday.
“If ever you could imagine the worst possible environment into which a global pandemic emerges, (it) would be in an environment of anti-science, complete normalization of lies, complete normalization of equating the true scientific data with complete nonsense,” Fauci said. “This is something that is so disturbing to me as a physician, as a scientist and as a public health person.”
During the Q&A period after the lecture, Fauci was asked what he thinks the world will be like in five to 10 years. He responded “we don’t know,” saying it’s unclear what will happen when the pandemic phase ends, and whether the circulation of the virus will be low enough for society to carry on as usual.”
“Let’s get out of the pandemic first,” he said. “Right now we’re still in a pandemic phase, and we have the tools to get out of it: a highly effective set of vaccines. Once we do that, then we can really start figuring out how we’re going to be able to keep it suppressed.”
Asked how to approach people who are anti-vaccine and anti-mask, Fauci said people need to be willing to give up individual rights “for the greater good of society.”
“I think what people have to appreciate is that indeed, you do have personal liberties for yourself and you should be in control of that,” he said. “But you are a member of society, and as a member of society — reaping all the benefits of being a member of society — you have a responsibility to society. And I think each of us, particularly in the context of a pandemic that’s killing millions of people, you have got to look at it and say there comes a time when you do have to give up what you consider your individual right of making your own decision, for the greater good of society.”