Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden, claimed on Sunday that critics do not like him because those critics “deny reality.”

Fauci made the remarks during a Fox News interview with anchor Chris Wallace, who noted that “when this pandemic started, I think it’s fair to say you were the — generally regarded as the authority on infectious disease.”

“But as time has gone on, you have become a polarizing figure. Critics accuse you of sending mixed messages,” Wallace continued. “There’s allegations that you helped fund dangerous research at the Wuhan lab.”

“Why do you think you have become so controversial?” Wallace asked. “And, honestly, do you think there’s anything you have done that has contributed to that?”

“Well, I’m not so sure I could answer the latter because I can’t think of anything, but I’m sure some people will,” Fauci responded. “But, you know, Chris, I have stood for always making science, data, and evidence be what we guide ourselves by.”

“And I think people who feel differently, who have conspiracy theories, who deny reality that’s looking them straight in the eye, those are people that don’t particularly care for me,” Fauci continued. “And that’s understandable because what I do, and I try very hard, is to be guided by the truth. And sometimes, the truth becomes inconvenient for some people, so they react against me. That just is what it is. There’s not much I can do about that, Chris.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA FOX NEWS:

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: And hello again from FOX News in Washington. It’s been a busy week in the continuing effort to gain more control over the COVID pandemic. An FDA advisory panel recommended booster shots of two more vaccines for millions of Americans. And they will consider whether it’s safe for people to mix and match — to get initial doses of one vaccine and then boosters of another. Meanwhile, the battle over vaccine mandates, whether government agencies and private businesses can order workers to get shots, continues to escalate. And there are growing signs some essential workers may stay off of the job rather than comply with mandates. We want to discuss all of this, plus get the latest on the spread of the virus, with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical advisor. Doctor, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday.”

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR: Thank you. Thank you, Chris. Good to be with you.

WALLACE: As we said, the FDA advisory panel this week recommended application for the use of the two other boosters that haven’t been approved so far, Moderna and J&J, even though the data on J&J boosters was, relatively speaking, pretty weak, according to some of the scientists on that panel. Has the politics of giving boosters gotten ahead of the actual public health?

FAUCI: Well, you know, Chris, I’m not so sure the politics got — the politics got ahead of it. If you look at the data that’s been accumulated not only from our cohorts that we’re following here in the United States, but the information, which is critical information, that we’re getting from Israel, it’s very, very clear that there’s waning immunity and that we do need to boost individuals who’ve received any of the three products that we’ve been dealing with right now. And as you mentioned, just this past week, two of them, Moderna and J&J, put their data before the FDA and their advisory committee has made a recommendation. Now, it’s up to the FDA to make that authorization, which I believe will then go on for a recommendation from the CDC. So, I don’t think there’s any political issue there. I think it’s just public health data and evidence.

WALLACE: The FDA panel will now also consider whether it is safe to mix and match, to get your initial dose from one vaccine and then your booster from another vaccine. This is especially an issue with J&J which, according to the data, has — offers less production. First of all, do you think mix-and-match is safe? And should people who got J&J vaccine initially seriously consider getting a booster of another vaccine which offers more protection?

FAUCI: Well, I think what needs to be done, and I believe it will be done, is that there will be a degree of flexibility that will be left up to the individual based on their individual situation. The point that you make is as follows — if you look at the data from J&J that presented to the FDA when they use their own product as the boost, it’s based on clinical data from a clinical trial. The mix and match to which you refer shows that when you boost Moderna or Pfizer against the original J&J, you get a much higher antibody level. That’s a laboratory indicator that would predict efficacy. But it’s a laboratory data. So, people need to understand that the J&J against the J&J from the trial and the data they presented is based on clinical data. So, what you’re going to see without a doubt is that the FDA is going to take all of that under advisement from their advisory committee and then they’ll make a regulatory decision, which then will get to the CDC, with their advisory committee, and they’ll make a recommendation. I believe there’s going to be a degree of flexibility of what a person who got the J&J originally can do, either with J&J or with the mix-and-match from other products.

WALLACE: Doctor, let’s take a look at where we are now in this fourth wave of the coronavirus. There’s an average of almost 84,000 new cases every day and more than 1,500 deaths every day. Still bad, but down considerably from a month ago. Are we coming out of the Delta wave? And as we head into colder weather, people going inside, holiday travel, what is the real possibility that we could have a fifth wave of the virus? Especially, especially if there’s not a spike in vaccinations?

FAUCI: Well, that’s the issue, I think, what you just mentioned just now, Chris. It’s going to be within our capability to prevent that from happening. You’re right. The numbers are going down. The cases are down, about 23 percent. The hospitalizations and deaths are down 17 or 18 percent. So, we’re going in the right direction. The problem is, as we all know, we still have approximately 66 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated who are not vaccinated. The degree to which we continue to come down in that slope will depend on how well we do about getting more people vaccinated. If we don’t do very well in that regard, there’s always the danger that there will be enough circulating virus that you can have a stalling of the diminishing of the number of cases. And when that happens, as we’ve seen in the past with other waves that we’ve been through, there’s the danger of resurgence. But we can do something about that. That’s the whole point that we keep emphasizing. The more people we get vaccinated, the less likelihood is there going to be another surge as we go into the winter.

WALLACE: So, briefly, what is your advice for the holiday season, for travel, for gathering together as families? First for groups that are vaccinated, and then for groups that aren’t?

FAUCI: Well, for groups that are vaccinated, I think we can enjoy the holiday season. I get asked that all the time. You know, trick-or-treating on Halloween, Thanksgiving with the family. When you’re in the family unit among people who are vaccinated, I think you should just enjoy the holidays as best you can in the family spirit. For those who are not vaccinated, first, I would encourage them very strongly to get vaccinated. But if they’re not, they should do what the CDC recommends, is when you’re in an indoor setting, in a public indoor setting, to wear a mask. It’s very important. We know that masks work, and they could greatly diminished the likelihood that you’re going to get infected, which is another reason why we keep saying why it’s so important to get vaccinated, because not only will it be good for your own health and that of your family, it will make it much easier for you to enjoy the kinds of things in society that you’d like to enjoy anyway.

WALLACE: Well, let me pick up on that, Doctor. Texas Governor Greg Abbott this week issued an executive order banning any entity, whether public or private, from mandating that people got vaccines. Here he was last June when he banned vaccine passports. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Texas is open 100 percent. And we want to make sure that you have the freedom to go where you want without limits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: What do you think of Governor Abbott?

FAUCI: Well, I’m not going to make — and opining about it (ph) — my personal opinion of any person in office like a governor, except to say that from a public health standpoint, that is really unfortunate, because we know how effective vaccines are in preventing not only illness for the individual, but for the diminishing the dynamics of the infection in society. The data are very, very clear. It doesn’t matter what I think or not think of Governor Abbott. The fact is, look at the data and look at the difference between people who get vaccinated versus people who are unvaccinated, in cases, in hospitalizations, and in deaths. The CDC just came out with their recent data and the data are really striking, Chris, about the risk associated with being unvaccinated versus the protection that you get when you are vaccinated. I would just have to — you know, go ahead.

WALLACE: No, go ahead. Finish your sentence.

FAUCI: Yeah, no, I was going to say, so, unfortunately, I can understand perhaps what the governor is trying to do, but I think when you’re in a public health crisis, sometimes unusual situations require unusual actions. And in this case, it’s things like mandating, be they mask or vaccinations, they’re very important. We’re not living in a vacuum as individuals. We’re living in a society, and society needs to be protected, and you do that by not only protecting yourself, but by protecting the people around you by getting vaccinated.

WALLACE: I want to squeeze in two more questions. In a number of places — police, pilots, health workers, are threatening job action if vaccine mandates are enforced. I want you to take a look at the police union official in Chicago and then the mayor of that city. Here they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN CATANZARA, CHICAGO FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE PRESIDENT: It’s safe to say the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50 percent or less for this weekend coming up.

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO: If those who are sworn to uphold the law act as if they’re above the law, we’re not going to tolerate that. That’s not acceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: When we’re talking about essential workers maybe going off the job, like half of a police force, should local officials or should corporate executives back off enforcing these mandates?

FAUCI: Well, Chris, I mean, I’m not comfortable with telling people what they should do under normal circumstances, but we are not in normal circumstances right now. Take the police. We know now the statistics, more police officers die of COVID than they do in other causes of death. So, it doesn’t make any sense to not [try] to protect yourself, as well as the colleagues that you work with. So, I think if we can get people to just think about that, think about the implications of not getting vaccinated when you’re in a position where you have a responsible job and you want to protect yourself because you’re needed at your job, whether you’re a police officer or a pilot or any other of those kinds of occupations.

WALLACE: Finally, when this pandemic started, I think it’s fair to say you were the — generally regarded as the authority on infectious disease. But as time has gone on, you have become a polarizing figure. Critics accuse you of sending mixed messages. There’s allegations that you helped fund dangerous research at the Wuhan lab. Two questions. Why do you think you have become so controversial? And, honestly, do you think there’s anything you have done that has contributed to that?

FAUCI: Well, I’m not so sure I could answer the latter because I can’t think of anything, but I’m sure some people will. But, you know, Chris, I have stood for always making science, data, and evidence be what we guide ourselves by. And I think people who feel differently, who have conspiracy theories, who deny reality that’s looking them straight in the eye, those are people that don’t particularly care for me. And that’s understandable because what I do, and I try very hard, is to be guided by the truth. And sometimes, the truth becomes inconvenient for some people, so they react against me. That just is what it is. There’s not much I can do about that, Chris.

WALLACE: Dr. Fauci, thank you. Thanks for your time this Sunday. It’s always good to talk with you, sir.

FAUCI: Same here, Chris. Thank you for having me.

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