Top U.S. immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci declared on Tuesday that the “pandemic phase” of COVID-19 is over.
But that was refuted on Wednesday — by top U.S. immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci.
On Tuesday, Fauci sat down with Judy Woodruff of “PBS NewsHour,” who asked Fauci: “Here we are. It’s the end of April. It’s the spring of 2022. How close are we to the end of the pandemic?”
“We are certainly, right now, in this country out of the pandemic phase,” Fauci replied. “Namely, we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now.”
“So, if you’re saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are,” he added.
Well, that’s pretty clear.
But on Wednesday, Fauci walked it all back.
“We are in a different moment of the pandemic,” Fauci told the Associated Press on Wednesday. While the U.S. has “decelerated and transitioned into more of a controlled phase” of the virus, he added “by no means does that mean the pandemic is over.”
Gotcha. We are “out of the pandemic phase,” but “by no means does that mean that the pandemic is over.” That’s clear, right?
Fauci did more damage control Wednesday, telling The Washington Post: “The world is still in a pandemic. There’s no doubt about that. Don’t anybody get any misinterpretation of that.”
The White House circled the wagons around the 81-year-old Fauci, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki explaining why emergency measures would still be necessary given that Fauci said the “pandemic phase” is over.
“Well, what Dr. Fauci was saying is that we are in a different phase of this pandemic, and that’s absolutely true,” Psaki said. “We also know COVID isn’t over and the pandemic isn’t over,” she added, contradicting what Fauci had said the day before.
Psaki also said that Americans are still catching the virus and “we have measures that we should all continue to take to protect ourselves.”
Fauci has walked back declarations before. Last year, Fauci said Americans might need a booster shot to be considered “fully vaccinated,” only to say a few days later an extra jab wasn’t necessary to earn that status.
And in August 2021, Fauci told NPR if enough Americans get vaccinated, the country could “really get some good control over this” by fall or winter 2022.
But later the same day, this time on CNN, Fauci said it won’t take that long. “I have to apologize. When I listened to the tape, I meant to say the spring of 2022, so I did misspeak,” he said. “I didn’t mean the fall — I misspoke. My bad.”
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.