Boston University researchers created a hybrid strain by combining the Omicron spike protein and the original COVID virus. The new virus was found to kill 80% of laboratory mice when it was tested, according to the Daily Mail on Monday.
The school’s preprint research paper was cited by the news outlet, but it has not been peer-reviewed. Boston University has retorted, calling the article “false” and inaccurate.
The university was accused of conducting dangerous experiments that were similar to the ones that caused the COVID epidemic. According to the news agency, Boston University was involved in gain-of-function research.
The National Institutes of Health began using government funds in 2017 to conduct gain-of-function research. The practice was stopped between 2014 and 2017, after concerns that it could accidentally cause a pandemic.
Shmuel Shapira is a top scientist in Israel’s government and told the Daily Mail that virus manipulation research should be “totally forbidden”. He added that it was “playing with fire.”
According to Dr. Richard Ebright of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey’s chemist, the Daily Mail, the Boston experiments are “a clear example” of gain-of-function research.
Ebright stated, “If we want to avoid another lab-generated pandemic it is imperative that we strengthen oversight of enhanced potential pathogen research.”
David Livermore, a microbiology professor at U.K.’s University of East Anglia said to the Daily Mail, “Given that there is a strong likelihood that the COVID pandemic was caused by the escape of a laboratory-manipulated coronavirus from Wuhan, these experiments appear profoundly foolish.”
According to a spokesperson from Boston University, the purpose of the research was “provide a public service by leading to better, more targeted therapeutic interventions to fight future pandemics.”
The Daily Mail reported that 80% of mice who were exposed to the hybrid variant developed by school scientists died. The Daily Mail reported that mice of the same species survived when they were exposed to the Omicron variant.
According to the university’s paper, Omicron causes mild, nonfatal infections in mice. However, Omicron S-carrying viruses cause severe disease and a mortality rate exceeding 80 percent.
The University of Boston refuted the claim that its experiments were intended for gain-of-function research and called it “false” and “inaccurate.”
The university stated that the research was not gain-of-function research. This means it didn’t amplify or make the virus more dangerous. “In fact, the virus was made less dangerous by this research.”
Boston University acknowledged that the mice in the study were highly susceptible to the virus and claimed that it was the original strain, not the hybrid, that caused them to die.
The school stated that the program was approved by the Boston University Institutional Biosafety Committee, Boston Biosafety Committee, and Boston Public Health Commission in March 2020.