Anthony Fauci Defends Christmas Comments, Says Vaccinated People Can Gather for Holiday

Dr. Anthony Fauci has defended comments he made about Christmas gatherings following criticism from some conservative figures. He encouraged Americans and "particularly the vaccinated people" to spend time with family over the holidays.

Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday that it was "too soon to tell" if people could gather for Christmas and emphasized the need to get the number of COVID-19 cases down.

However, Fauci clarified those remarks during an appearance on CNN on Monday where he said the comments had been "misinterpreted" and encouraged Americans to have a "normal Christmas."

"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," Fauci told CNN on Monday.

"That was misinterpreted as my saying we can't spend Christmas with our families, which was absolutely not the case," he said.

"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 said.

He also stressed, again, that his earlier remarks had been subject to misinterpretation.

During his Sunday interview, CBS News' Margaret Brennan mentioned the holidays to Fauci, saying: "But we can gather for Christmas, or it's just too soon to tell?"

Fauci replied: "Margaret, it's just too soon to tell. 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 we're going to do at a particular time."

"Let's focus like a laser on continuing to get those—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," Fauci said.

The infectious diseases expert faced strong criticism for the comments about Christmas, particularly from conservatives, including Republican Representative Claudia Tenney and Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

The Fauci Who Stole Christmas:

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. (Face the Nation)

Biden’s going to regret not showing him the door sooner.

— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 3, 2021

Ingraham referred to him as "The Fauci Who Stole Christmas" in reference to the famous Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and said Biden is "going to regret not showing him the door sooner."

Tenney, who represents New York's 22nd congressional district, tweeted: "I would like to inform Biden and Fauci that regardless of what they say, Americans are celebrating Christmas."

Scott Gottlieb, who served commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2017 to 2019, told CNBC on Monday: "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."

Anthony Fauci Arrives at a Senate Committee
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on July 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Fauci has faced criticism for comments about Christmas gatherings and COVID-19. Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images