Boston University researchers developed a new strain of COVID-19 that looks to be significantly more lethal than the prevailing Omicron variant.
The researchers from Boston and Florida removed the spike protein from the Omicron variation of COVID-19 and linked it to the virus’s initial strain that arose in Wuhan, China. After infecting lab mice with the new mixture, 80% of the animals perished.
Similar lab mice injected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 all lived with just minimal symptoms, according to the researchers.
The spike protein is the component of the coronavirus that attaches to human cells and infects them. Mutations in the spike protein are frequently responsible for the emergence of newer, more infectious strains of COVID-19, like the Omicron variant.
Other members of the research world were quick to criticize the scientists for conducting risky experiments. “This should be completely prohibited; it is indeed playing with fire,” former chief of the Israel Institute of Biological Research Scientist Shmuel Shapira stated to the Daily Mail.
Dr. Richard Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University, stated that the research obviously qualifies as “Gain-of-Function” (GoF) work. “The research is a prime example of worrisome gaining of function and heightened potentially catastrophic pathogen (ePPP) research,” he explained to the Daily Mail. “It is especially troubling that somehow this new US-government ePPP study… does not appear to have gone through the previous risk-benefit review required by US-government laws.”
The work does not fulfill the definition of GoF, according to a statement published by Boston University. “This research mirrors and validates the results of other institutions’ similar experiments,” a spokeswoman stated.
In the context of harmful infections, GoF research entails genetically changing viruses to make them highly transmissible, lethal, or even both. Proponents argue that this is necessary study to understand more about infections and develop cures and vaccinations, but critics, such as Ebright, believe it is unsafe.
Dr. Mohsan Saeed, one of the study’s authors, recently obtained a $2.5 million funding from Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Fauci has been a vocal proponent of GoF studies.
Some believe that the COVID-19 pandemic began as a consequence of GoF research. In the run-up to the present global pandemic, similar studies on bat-borne coronaviruses were being undertaken at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, only blocks away from the very first known outbreak of COVID-19.