Fauci joins list of advisers defending Biden’s ‘pandemic is over’ comments

Fauci joins advisers defending Biden’s ‘pandemic is over’ comments, admits ‘draconian’ lockdowns had negative consequences and hints he could write a book in retirement

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Dr. Anthony Fauci joined the White House in defending President Joe Biden‘s comment to 60 Minutes that the ‘pandemic is over’ saying Wednesday that ‘it really becomes semantics and about how you want to spin it.’ 

‘Well, obviously, that’s the question du jour that I’ve gotten maybe 500 times since Sunday,’ he said at the Atlantic Festival in Washington. ‘What the president was referring to, and if you look at the entire quote – it’s not incompatible with what I said the day before, that we still have a lot of challenges ahead.’

During Sunday’s episode of 60 Minutes, host Scott Pelley pointed out to the president that they were walking around the first Detroit Auto Show in three years and then asked, ‘Is the pandemic over?’ 

‘The pandemic is over,’ Biden replied. ‘We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. It’s – but the pandemic is over.’ 

‘If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it,’ Biden added. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci (right) tried to explain Wednesday what President Joe Biden meant when he said that the pandemic is 'over' during an appearance at the Atlantic Festival. He was interview by the Atlantic's Ross Andersen (left)

Dr. Anthony Fauci (right) tried to explain Wednesday what President Joe Biden meant when he said that the pandemic is ‘over’ during an appearance at the Atlantic Festival. He was interview by the Atlantic’s Ross Andersen (left) 

President Joe Biden (left) walked around the Detroit Auto Show with 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley (right) on Wednesday for an episode released Sunday. Biden's comments that the 'pandemic is over' received a lot of attention, as Fauci appeared to have said the opposite recently

President Joe Biden (left) walked around the Detroit Auto Show with 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley (right) on Wednesday for an episode released Sunday. Biden’s comments that the ‘pandemic is over’ received a lot of attention, as Fauci appeared to have said the opposite recently  

Earlier Wednesday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre suggested he answered the question in the context of events like the auto show and the United Nations General Assembly occurring in-person again. 

‘So just to step back for a second, what we saw during that interview, 60 Minutes interview, when he made those comments, he was walking through the Detroit car show, the halls of the Detroit car show, and he was looking around,’ she explained on Morning Joe. ‘We have to remember the last time that they had held that event was three years ago.’

Fauci said Biden was trying to make the point that ‘it’s very different now.’ 

‘We have a much better control and I’m going to get to the next few words he said – we have vaccinations, we have boosters, we have the availability as of the last couple weeks an updated vaccine that actually matches the circulating strain … and we have antibody drugs,’ Fauci said. ‘But the next sentence he went on and said that we still have a lot of work to do because we’re really not over with COVID.’ 

Fauci then reminded The Atlantic’s Ross Andersen that the point he’s been making is that ‘400 deaths a day is not an acceptable number.’ 

In the wide-ranging interview, which touched on the politicization and the origin of COVID, his work on AIDS and PEPFAR, and what he might do next, Fauci talked about how he’s not the guy who should appear on Bobbleheads, nor be the center of right-wing conspiracy theories. 

He said his biggest regret was not more clearly explaining that ‘science and data change from day to day and from week to week.’ 

Fauci admitted that the shutdowns were ‘rather draconian,’ and got ‘so boggled with people understanding why those things were done and it led to a lot of criticism, and criticism often gets amplified by social media, which you don’t need me to tell you how that works.’

Explaining it onstage, he explains that ‘sometimes when you do draconian things, it has collateral negative consequences, just like when you shut things down, even temporarily, it does have deleterious consequences, on the economy, on the schoolchildren, you know that.’ 

‘But you have to make a balance when you’re dealing with the only way to stop something cold in its tracks is to try and shut things down,’ he said. ‘You try to shut things down for the sake of it, that’s bad. but with the purpose of being able to regroup so that you can then open up in a safe way, that’s the best way to do it.’ 

Fauci already announced he would step down from the government in December, but at the Atlantic Festival he hinted he would potentially write a book, among other ‘rewire’-ment pursuits. 

The 81-year old head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said he would try to ‘inspire the younger generation of scientists and would-be scientists.’ 

‘If I can do that by writing, by lecturing, by traveling – whether I write articles or books or whatever – to get people to be inspired, I think that’s probably the best way to spend the next couple of years before I’m too weak to do anything,’ Fauci said.  

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