Fauci walks back comment suggesting no Christmas gatherings, says he'll be with family

Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, says comments "misrepresented."
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Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci, February 2021
Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci, February 2021
(SAUL LOEB/Getty)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, says his recent comments about whether it would be safe to gather for Christmas amid the continuing pandemic have been "misrepresented."

Fauci told CBS on Sunday it was "too soon to tell" whether people can gather for Christmas amid the pandemic, after much of the world spent Christmas 2020 without extended family and friends.

"I will be spending Christmas with my family," Fauci, President Biden's top medical adviser, told CNN on Monday. "I encourage people, particularly the vaccinated people who are protected, to have a good, normal Christmas with your family."

Fauci suggested the misrepresentation was a consequence of misunderstanding the question Sunday and his response. 

Would it be OK if "we can gather for Christmas, or is it just too soon to tell?" he was asked.

"You know ... It's just too soon to tell," responded Fauci, also the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, according to Yahoo News. "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."

The comment sparked considerable backlash. 

"Nothing's going to stop us from getting together," said former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, according to Yahoo. "People should just be prudent." 

Fauci said Monday that he was not referring to the possibility of gatherings but rather to the overall condition of the pandemic in December.