Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser, joked at an event Tuesday that he created the COVID-19 virus.
Fauci was appearing at an event in Seattle to accept an award from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. During an interview, he joked that he had created “WA1,” which is considered to be the ancestral model strain of COVID-19 in the U.S.
The host of the interview said that the two men are at the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, where WA1 was first found. Before he could ask Fauci his question, the infectious disease doctor interjected to seemingly mock critics who accuse him of playing a role in the creation of COVID-19.
“No, I developed the ancestral model strain,” Fauci joked. “I created it. I was in my kitchen…” he trailed off.
“Gain-of-function here we come,” the interviewer replied, as the two men laughed along with the audience. (RELATED: Renowned Molecular Biologist Accuses Fauci Of Lying To Congress About Gain-Of-Function Research)
Fauci has repeatedly denied accusations that he played a role in the outbreak of COVID-19. Experts and lawmakers have taken increasing interest in the “lab-leak” theory, which posits that the COVID outbreak started when the virus was accidentally released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in Wuhan, China.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded gain-of-function research at the WIV for years leading up to the start of the pandemic. Gain-of-function research involves genetically modifying pathogens to make them more dangerous to humans for research purposes. Some critics, such as Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, have theorized that the research funded by Fauci and other top U.S. health officials may have led to the creation of the virus that ultimately caused the global COVID-19 pandemic.