US Covid czar cracks joke about pandemic
Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser joked on Tuesday that it was he who concocted coronavirus in his kitchen, in an apparent attempt to mock the proponents of anti-science rhetoric that is still widespread in the United States.
Dr. Anthony Fauci sat down with his friend and colleague Dr. Larry Corey in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center campus in Seattle, Washington to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking to the Covid czar, Corey noted that the event was being held in the state of Washington, “at the epicenter of the initial outbreak.” He was apparently referring to the first case of Covid-19 on US soil, which was brought in by an American who had returned home to the Seattle area after visiting Wuhan, the Chinese city from which the virus apparently originated.
Fauci, however, responded with a joke. “No, I developed the ancestral model strain. I created it.”
“You let it loose,” Cory interjected as the audience broke into laughter.
“I was in my kitchen, and…” Fauci said, making a gesture to suggest he dropped something.
On a more serious note, the White House health adviser said his team is expecting another surge in Covid-19 cases in the US this fall. He also voiced concerns about how much misinformation is being spread about coronavirus and vaccines, even as the pandemic is about to enter its third year.
“It’s still amazing to me that people can still hold onto such untruths. They have so much going on in their lives, that they just accept it as fact,” he said. “And all of a sudden, lying becomes normal.”
Meanwhile, not all of Fauci’s compatriots were amused by his remarks. “Quite the topic to find humorous,” quipped one Twitter user, while another asked rhetorically “Why would he even joke about it?”
During the event, Fauci was also given the honorary Hutch Award, which is usually granted to professional baseball players who have acted as healthcare advocates. Fauci became the second non-baseball player on record to receive such an award.
Before that, however, Biden’s adviser was also booed by baseball fans as he threw out the first pitch prior to the Seattle Mariners game against the New York Yankees. One of the possible reasons for the cold greeting could be the fact that Fauci is a long-time Yankees fan.
In mid-July, Fauci revealed that he intended to retire by the end of Joe Biden’s first term in office – January 2025 – or even sooner. But he also vowed to continue working on public health matters after leaving government service.
Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) – which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – since 1984. In recent years, he has received a lot of media attention, as he was one of most prominent figures leading the US coronavirus response.
The veteran public health official has repeatedly clashed with Republican Senator Rand Paul, who accused him of lying to Congress, including about NIH involvement in research at the Institute of Virology in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The senator went so far as to propose a bill that would abolish Fauci’s NIAID post, calling him “an unelected bureaucrat with far too much power.”