Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the White House's chief epidemiologist throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, is taking some heat from conservatives regarding a recent joke about the origin of the coronavirus.
While participating in a roundtable discussion at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center campus in Seattle this week, Fauci and Dr. Larry Corey had the following light exchange:
Corey: "At the epicenter of the initial outbreak, WA1 – Washington 1 is considered the ancestral model strain."
Fauci (jokingly): "No, I developed the ancestral model strain. I created it."
Corey (laughing): "That's right, you let it loose."
Fauci (joking): "I was in my kitchen, and I ..." while pretending to drop an imaginary object to the floor.
Corey: "Gain-of-function, there we go."
Corey then referenced Fauci intending to make Italian meatballs that hypothetical day in his kitchen, but ended up inventing COVID-19.
The Hutchinson Center audience laughed at the byplay between the doctors.
However, some outsiders didn't see it that way, since Fauci has become a household name over the last 28 months — in terms overseeing America's response to the airborne virus, and also recommending economic shutdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine requirements to former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden.
Author and journalist Benjamin Weingarten had this response to Fauci's joke: "Despicable: He mocks and trolls while being the single person arguably most responsible for promoting policies that have damaged millions of lives and helped perhaps irrevocably cripple our republican system."
Tyler Carditis, CEO of Blaze Media, wrote, "Fauci makes a joke about creating SARS-CoV-2. See, it's funny because we all know that's impossible. He's not that smart. But he's arrogant & naive enough to approve & fund the research & scientists that likely did & slimy enough to try to cover it all up."
Also, Young Americans for Liberty tweeted: "Extremely poor taste joke from Tyrant Fauci. Not only is he a terrible doctor, he's tone deaf!"
Some Republican senators have recently condemned Fauci for wanting to expand the gain-of-function research for infectious diseases, particularly in China — which some Republicans argue might have been the origin area of the COVID-19 strain.
"Taking a virus that has known danger and then trying to make it more infectious is kind of an existential problem. It's a death wish for civilization," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on Newsmax last week.
Paul also shared a story with Newsmax from the initial Senate hearings on the the COVID-19 pandemic origin: On the first day of testimony, three scientists surmised the top-level research being conducted in the Wuhan, China, lab "should have been reviewed before being allowed."
Instead, the unchecked research might have led to the pandemic which killed more than 6 million people worldwide — including more than 1 million Americans.
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