Chinese Scientists Create COVID Strain That’s 100% Lethal in ‘Humanized’ Mice

359
Chinese Scientists Create COVID Strain That’s 100% Lethal in ‘Humanized’ Mice

Chinese scientists have created a mutated pangolin coronavirus that is 100% lethal in “humanized” mice, raising biosafety concerns around risky gain-of-function research.

The preprint study demonstrated the virus’ ability to replicate in lung and brain tissue, concluding that severe neurological infection likely caused the mice’s deaths.

According to scientists at the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, the SARS-CoV-2-related pangolin variant “GX_P2V C7” was derived from a previously cloned virus that mutated in lab-grown cell cultures.

When intranasally inoculated into mice bioengineered to express human ACE2 receptors, the virus killed all of the mice within eight days.

The researchers warned their finding “underscores a spillover risk of GX_P2V into humans” and concluded that this research could provide an alternative model for investigating the pathogenic mechanisms of emerging coronaviruses.

Dr. Marty Makary, Johns Hopkins professor of surgery and author of “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care — and How to Fix It,” took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to comment on the study:

Dr. James Thorp, whose medical experience includes 44 years in obstetrics and fetal maternal medicine, and the author of more than 245 scientific papers, wrote on X, “Sure appears like a lab-created bioweapon to me. Am I missing something? Do you believe that this research is being done for the good of humanity? Have we collectively gone insane?”

Many on X wondered whether this kind of research would result in the outbreak of the theoretical “Disease X” predicted by the World Health Organization, the World Economic Forum, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and other globalist organizations.

Chinese study ‘scientifically totally pointless’

Francois Balloux, Ph.D., chair in Computational Biology Systems Biology at University College London, responded to the study with the following tweet:

Richard Ebright, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, told The Defender he agreed with Professor Balloux’s assessment:

“I note that the preprint does not specify the biosafety level and biosafety precautions used for the research. … The absence of this information raises the concerning possibility that part or all of this research, like the research in Wuhan in 2016-2019 that likely caused the COVID-19 pandemic, was recklessly performed without the minimal biosafety protections essential for research with a potential pandemic pathogen.”

The Chinese paper comes on the heels of a recent study documenting the escape of 16 pathogens from biosafety laboratories between 2000 and 2021, which resulted in at least 316 infections and eight deaths — not including the global impact of the likely leak of SARS-CoV-2.

Ebright noted that while China took steps to strengthen biosafety regulations after the COVID-19 disaster, the U.S. did not, “due to opposition and obstruction by [Dr. Anthony] Fauci and [Dr. Francis] Collins.” Collins is the former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“I am surprised that high-risk, low-value research, such as the research in this preprint, continues in China today, likely with inadequate biosafety protections, even after the strengthening of biosafety regulations,” Ebright said.

Brian Hooker, Ph.D., senior director of science and research at Children’s Health Defense, told The Defender that he agreed with Ebright’s concern about the lack of biosafety documentation accompanying the study, and said this type of research is “extremely dangerous given the potential for lab leaks or other catastrophes.”

“The investigators claim that this is not gain-of-function research — that is simply not true,” Hooker said. “Given the high level of mutation of these RNA viruses, the mere experimentation involving the eight infected, humanized mice could select for mutations that interact more robustly with the human ACE2 receptor.”

Christina Parks, Ph.D., a science educator with a degree in cellular and molecular biology, posted a video about the study, saying, “This is gain-of-function research. There’s no two ways about it.”

“This particular variant is not causing lung infection [in the mice], it’s destroying their brains in a matter of hours and days, and causing 100% lethality. … and not just any mice, mice that have been [engineered] to be more like humans,” she said.

Justin Kinney, Ph.D., co-founder of Biosafety Now, an organization that seeks tighter regulations for gain-of-function research, told The Epoch Times the research described in the paper was not technically gain-of-function “because the China-based scientists did not purposely enhance the virus to be more pathogenic or transmissible.”

“The research is still very dangerous,” Kinney said. He also expressed concern that the paper did not identify the biosafety level at which the work was performed.

Kinney, who also serves as associate professor of quantitative biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, on Jan. 10 testified in the Wisconsin State Assembly in favor of a bill that would prohibit gain-of-function research that enhances potential pandemic pathogens and would require researchers to file reports with state and local officials.

Hooker raised concerns about the potential military applications of the research. “There are also links to the effort in the Chinese military where offensive bioweapons can be developed,” he said.

One of the study’s authors, Yigang Tong, was trained by the Chinese military, worked in military-run labs and co-authored a 2023 paper with Shi Zhengli, a senior scientist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) also about a pangolin virus infecting transgenic mice.

University of Illinois international law professor Francis Boyle, J.D., Ph.D., a bioweapons expert who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, told The Defender the Chinese study looked to him like “a biowarfare arms race between PRC [People’s Republic of China] and USA.”

Humanized mice and the ACE2 receptor

In the Chinese study, the mice were genetically engineered to produce human ACE2 receptors.

ACE2 — short for angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 — is a protein found on the surface of many human cells, especially those in the lungs, blood vessels, heart, kidney and gastrointestinal tract.

The ACE2 receptor acts as the entry point for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to get into cells and start infection. The spike protein on the surface of the coronavirus directly binds to ACE2 receptors, allowing the virus access into the host cell where it can replicate.

In the Chinese study, testing verified the presence of viral antigens spreading in both the pulmonary and cerebral regions over time. However, the findings showed largely an absence of major inflammatory responses or tissue damage.

While lung viral titers decreased by day six post-infection in the humanized mice, the study reported “exceptionally high” genome copies in neural tissue, signaling lethal neurological invasion.

Quantitative testing identified significant viral loads across organ systems, but most notably in the brain.

The infected mice additionally displayed symptoms like sluggishness, white eyes, 10% weight loss and ruffled fur shortly before death.

In records obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request in 2021, a proposal by EcoHealth Alliance described a plan to sequence the spike protein at the WIV from bat coronaviruses for the purpose of “creating mutants to identify how significantly each would need to evolve to use ACE2.”

EcoHealth Alliance received a $3.3 million grant from NIH for a project called “Understanding the Risk of Coronavirus Emergence” that ran at the WIV from 2013 through 2018.

The research involved infecting “humanized” mice with SARS-like coronaviruses.

Boyle, in a recent interview with The Defender, said that he believed the SARS-CoV-2 virus was developed through gain-of-function research to be an offensive biological warfare weapon before it leaked out of the WIV lab.

Boyle said that labs doing this kind of work anywhere in the world “must be shut down immediately before we have another COVID-19 pandemic.”

Donate to Children’s Health Defense