Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had said on Oct. 3 that he wasn’t sure yet when asked if Americans could get together to celebrate the winter holiday.
“It’s just too soon to tell,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
About 24 hours later, Fauci changed his position, claiming his remarks were misinterpreted.
“I said ‘We don’t know’ because we’ve seen slopes that went down and then came back up. The best way to assure that we’ll be in good shape as we get into the winter would be to get more and more people vaccinated. That was misinterpreted as my saying we can’t spend Christmas with our families, which was absolutely not the case,” Fauci said on CNN.
“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.”
Fauci’s original remarks drew widespread pushback.
“I don’t think anyone is going to be listening to Scrooge Fauci. I know I won’t be,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a doctor who has referred Fauci for a criminal probe because he allegedly lied about his agency funding gain-of-function research in China, wrote on Twitter.
“Fauci has lost all credibility with the American people. We aren’t waiting on his permission to celebrate Christmas together,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a member of the House Republican leadership.
Even figures who have generally urged being cautious during the pandemic signaled opposition to Fauci’s position.
“Nothing is going to stop us from getting together, and we’re going to be getting together for Thanksgiving and we’re going to be getting together for Christmas,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner and now a Pfizer board member, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“I think what people need to do is judge what the prevalence is in their local community and what the risk is within their family setting.”
Fauci last year encouraged people not to gather in person for Christmas, and he ended up skipping a gathering with his own family. He said the level of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus spread was too high at the time.
However, predictions that Fauci and some others made of large jumps in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations after holidays didn’t come to pass. Critics have increasingly called for Fauci to step down or be fired due to a litany of missed predictions and reversals on key issues, but he has continued to enjoy support from President Joe Biden and other top administration officials.
Fauci was asked last week if he would resign if that would lead to bolstered public support in top health officials, which could then lead to a boost to the COVID-19 vaccination drive. Hugh Hewitt, a radio host, noted that Fauci has admitted he misled Americans early in the pandemic on the efficacy of masks in a bid to try to preserve enough masks for health care workers. Hewitt also accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of botching testing and creating controversy over ivermectin while downplaying or ignoring research on natural immunity.
“I’ve lost confidence in the CDC and the FDA. And I actually believe a lot of Americans, a significant part of America, now have lost confidence in you, Dr. Fauci. Is there a point where you will say ‘I do more harm than good because people don’t listen to me anymore’ and step aside?” Hewitt said.
“No, absolutely, unequivocally no,” Fauci responded.
“The idea that people right now are not listening to what I’m saying; what I’m saying is the truth. It is a fact.”