Chinese scientists have conducted a Wuhan-esque study in which they engineered a mutant COVID-19 strain, GX_P2V, with a 100% lethality rate in “humanized” mice. The virus, derived from a coronavirus cousin found in Malaysian pangolins in 2017, demonstrates a rapid and severe impact on the genetically modified mice, attacking various organs, including the lungs, bones, eyes, tracheas, and brains.
- Mutant Virus Details:
- The mutant virus, GX_P2V, is a mutated version of GX/2017, discovered in Malaysian pangolins in 2017, three years before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- All mice infected with GX_P2V died within eight days, exhibiting a surprisingly rapid death rate.
- The virus infected multiple organs, leading to severe symptoms such as rapid weight loss, hunched posture, sluggish movement, and, notably, eyes turning completely white before death.
- Spillover Risk and Research Implications:
- The study emphasizes the spillover risk of GX_P2V into humans, presenting a unique model for understanding the pathogenic mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2-related viruses.
- While demonstrating the severe impact on the engineered mice, the study does not clearly indicate how this mutant virus would affect humans.
- Scientific Community Response:
- Some experts criticized the study, describing it as “terrible” and “scientifically totally pointless.”
- Concerns were raised about the biosafety level and precautions used during the research, emphasizing the need for transparency in handling potential pandemic pathogens.
- Call for Caution:
- Francois Balloux, an epidemiology expert, expressed skepticism about the research’s value and the potential risks associated with such experiments.
- Dr. Gennadi Glinsky urged that this “madness” must be stopped before it leads to unintended consequences.
- No Connection to Wuhan Institute of Virology:
- The study does not appear to be affiliated with China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was previously associated with lab leak theories related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conclusion: The creation of a mutant COVID-19 strain with a 100% lethality rate in engineered mice raises ethical and safety concerns within the scientific community. Critics argue that such experiments should be approached with caution, ensuring proper biosafety measures and transparency to prevent unintended consequences, similar to concerns raised during discussions about the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.