Dr Anthony Fauci has appeared to walk back his support of enacting a vaccine mandate for airline passengers after conservatives lashed out at the idea.
The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease made the comments during an appearance on CNN after anchor Jim Acosta asked him to follow up on previous statements and confirm that the Biden administration was considering domestic flight vaccine mandates.
“No, what I said, Jim, was that everything that comes up as a possibility, we put it on the table and we consider it. That does not mean that it is going to be likely to happen,” Dr Fauci said.
“Right now, I don’t think people should expect that we’re going to have a requirement in domestic flights for people to be vaccinated,” he continued. “When I was asked that question, I gave an honest answer. It’s on the table, and we consider it, but that doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen. I doubt if we’re gonna see something like that in the reasonably foreseeable future.”
On Sunday and Monday, Dr Fauci made statements to news organisations that suggested he supported a vaccine mandate on domestic flights as it would provide further pressure on unvaccinated individuals to take the shot.
“A vaccine requirement for a person getting on the plane is just another level of getting people to have a mechanism that would spur them to get vaccinated,” he told ABC’s This Week. “Namely, you can’t get on a plane unless you’re vaccinated, which is just another one of the ways of getting requirements, whatever that might be.”
He later told MSNBC: “When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated.”
Despite the fact that the coronavirus vaccines were developed during former President Donald Trump’s administration, many conservatives have been reluctant to take the shot, as it, like so much else, has been co-opted into the broader culture war between the right and the left. Even Mr Trump himself was recently booed when he revealed he had not only taken the vaccine, but also his booster shot.
Naturally, when Dr Fauci suggested everyone without a vaccination may essentially be added to a “do not fly” list, they became enraged.
Will Cain, one of the cohosts of the weekend edition of Fox & Friends, called for Dr Fauci to be fired because he “is simply out of control” and “power drunk”.
Donald Trump Jr issued a tweet calling Dr Fauci a “tyrant” and a “threat to whatever freedom we have left”.
During his appearance on CNN, Dr Fauci told Mr Acosta that he was keeping the idea of a domestic flight vaccine mandate “open for consideration”. Mr Acosta asked the doctor if he was the only White House official who supported the idea of a mandate, but the doctor dodged the question.
“No, let’s clarify that, Jim. I said that is something that’s open for consideration. It’s not a question of being in favor of it or not,” Dr Fauci said. “I’m in favour of what we can do to keep the country safe. If the situation arise[s] where that’s something we think should be important to do, we’ll do it. Right now, that’s not going to be done. But we never take anything off the table. We always keep things open for consideration.”