Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, faced criticism on Sunday after claiming during an interview with CBS News that it was “too soon” to tell if people can get together with family and friends over Christmas.
Fauci made the remarks during an interview with CBS News’ Margaret Brennan on “Face The Nation” in response to the upcoming holiday.
“It’s just too soon to tell,” Fauci said when asked if people could gather for Christmas. “We’ve just got to [be] concentrating on continuing to get those numbers down and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we’re going to do at a particular time. Let’s focus like a laser on continuing to get those cases down. And we can do it by people getting vaccinated, and also in the situation where boosters are appropriate to get people boosted because we know that they can help greatly in diminishing infection and diminishing advanced disease, the kinds of data that are now accumulating in real time.”
Some of the top responses to Fauci included:
- Mary Katharine Ham, CNN: “He said at an Atlantic event this week that he rejects the idea that even moderate or mild COVID infection is okay when that’s exactly what we’re told is the purpose of vax (as opposed to preventing transmission entirely). His philosophy is not compatible with a free society.”
- Sean Parnell, U.S. Senate candidate: “Someone tell this guy that we celebrated Christmas together with our families last year & are going to do it again this year. Even Dr. Birx, at the height of the pandemic, blew him off & traveled to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family. Dr. Fauci, please just go away.”
- Stephen Miller, political commentator: “Fauci once again doesn’t differentiate between his own hypochondria and guidance of public health policy based on medical fact. See your families on Christmas. F*** this guy.”
- Greg Pollowitz, editor: “They tried this last year, remember? And then Dr. Birx got caught breaking her own guidance.”
- Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX): “Guess this means I’m throwing a giant Christmas party.”
- Chuck Ross, reporter: “It’s bad enough that Fauci says these ridiculous things, but it’s worse that journos keep framing questions to him as if he has any say over whether we get together for Christmas.”
Margaret Brennan: “We can gather for Christmas, or it’s just too soon to tell?”
Fauci: “You know, Margaret, it’s just too soon to tell. We’ve just gotta concentrating on continuing to get those numbers down, & not try to jump ahead by weeks or months…”pic.twitter.com/535eSKq8aN
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) October 3, 2021
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to COVID, the pandemic and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser. Good morning to you, Dr. Fauci.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Seven hundred thousand American[s] dead. This is now the worst pandemic the country has ever experienced. Are we close to over? Do we need to brace for another wave?
DR. FAUCI: Well, you know, one of the things we want to make sure is that we have had over the last few weeks a turning around of the acceleration of this, starting to come down in cases and hospitalizations, and soon deaths. The one thing that we don’t want to do is that we don’t want to become complacent and say, “OK, now we need to pull back, we don’t need any more people to get vaccinated.” We need to continue to get those individuals, now 70 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated, vaccinated. Because if you look at the history, MARGARET, of the different surges we’ve had, it’s come up, start to come down, and then all of a sudden boom, come back up again. As it’s coming down, we have within our capability, we can make this happen. Namely, go down to a very, very low level, with vaccination and with mitigation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well–
DR. FAUCI: So that’s the one thing I want to make sure that our viewers realize that we’ve done well in the sense of getting 55% of the population fully vaccinated, and 64% with at least one dose. But we’ve got to keep pushing on the vaccination front.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. You said, “Don’t let your guard down.” There are two new studies out that show COVID’s gotten better at transmitting through aerosols, just through the air. What does that mean? We’re going into cold weather. We’re going into the holidays. Do people need to start looking around and saying it’s just too risky to gather with family members if there are unvaccinated children?
DR. FAUCI: Well, MARGARET, I believe just the way the CDC has recommended that when you are in a situation where you have a [dynamic … virus] in the community, where there’s clearly a lot of spread, even if you are vaccinated and you are in an indoor setting, a congregate setting, it just makes sense to wear a mask and to avoid high-risk situations. And what we should be doing is look at ventilation in indoor places. We know now that this is clearly spread by aerosol, and when you have something spread by aerosol, you absolutely want more ventilation, which is the reason why outdoors is always much safer than indoors. And if you are indoors, ventilation is going to be key. And that’s the reason why we really should be paying attention to that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But we can gather for Christmas, or it’s just too soon to tell?
DR. FAUCI: You know, MARGARET, it’s just too soon to tell. We’ve just got to concentrating on continuing to get those numbers down and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we’re going to do at a particular time. Let’s focus like a laser on continuing to get those cases down. And we can do it by people getting vaccinated, and also in the situation where boosters are appropriate to get people boosted because we know that they can help greatly in diminishing infection and diminishing advanced disease, the kinds of data that are now accumulating in real time.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president announced nearly a month ago that businesses need to mandate vaccines for their employees or submit them to weekly testing. We looked; it’s been a month. None of this paperwork has been filed with OSHA to make that happen. Was this a stunt? Are you seeing companies follow through even without the legal mandate filed?
DR. FAUCI: I think some of them are, and I think you’ll be seeing a lot more once we get past these legal issues. I think what the president said about companies greater than 100 individuals is a good thing, and you’re seeing also local groups, universities, and businesses are doing that, mandating vaccines…
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you’re speaking with immediacy. But when you’re speaking with immediacy, it doesn’t seem reflected in the action here.
DR. FAUCI: Well, certainly if you look at universities now, we’ve had, I believe, MARGARET, if I’m not mistaken, close to a thousand or more universities are saying that if you want to be on campus with real time classes, you really have to get vaccinated or you can’t come, and there are businesses that are doing that. I mean, airlines, look at airlines, the mandate of the airlines, where you have now 99% of certain airlines, employees are vaccinated. So when you do that, when you tell people that there are alternatives that if you do not want to get vaccinated, you’re not going to work or you’re not going to be able to go to school. I think that the emergent nature of what we’re dealing with actually does justify that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ve seen such an uptick in infections among kids, and low uptake of the vaccine in that 12 to 17 range. California just mandated it, as of January is the estimate. Do you think other states should follow suit?
DR. FAUCI: Well, I agree with what Governor Newsom did in California. I mean, I’m not going to getting into the local issues only to talk about general principles that people need to realize that having a vaccine requirement for schools is not a new, novel thing that is very peculiar or specific to COVID-19. We’ve been doing this for decades. My own children could not have gone to school if they had not gotten vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella. So when we see pushback on that, it’s as if this never happened before. It’s actually ongoing with other vaccines. So, let’s do it with a virus that’s very, very serious. And as you just mentioned with the numbers, MARGARET, has caused an unprecedented number of deaths and infections in this country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We had news this week from Merck that they have this new pill they submitted to the FDA that can reduce the chances of hospitalization if you get COVID. The government has purchased 1.7 million doses. That doesn’t seem like nearly enough. Why didn’t the government place a bigger bet on this drug?
DR. FAUCI: Well, I think the government placed a good bet on it, you know, when people — some people were saying, well, it’s, you know, it’s no proof at all or even indication it’s going to work. We went ahead and purchased 1.7. We have the option for millions more. And now that we have this success, the company certainly is going to rev up and make tens and tens of millions more for the rest of the world, and for us. So, it’s good news, and I think we were very prescient in making that determination way back of making a purchase of 1.7 million, billion, million, excuse me, I’m sorry.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you don’t worry that in the immediate term, the American government will be pushed to the back of the line before these foreign governments have their new purchase orders filled.
DR. FAUCI: You know, I don’t think so … I mean, I think this is good news and I think it’s going to be an important addition to our armamentarium. What I won’t want people to be doing is to saying, well, now that we have a drug, we don’t need to get vaccinated. The easiest way to not get in a hospital and not die is to not get infected in the first place.