New Type of COVID-19 Discovered in China
Chinese researchers have successfully created a deadly COVID-19 variant in the lab with a 100% fatality rate, sparking renewed concerns. When they infected lab rats, which had been genetically manipulated to have similar genetic characteristics to humans, all four rats died within eight days.
According to the New York Post on the 17th (local time), local researchers from Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Beijing PLA General Hospital, and Nanjing Medical University have created a variant of the coronavirus first discovered in Chansangap in 2017, named ‘GX_P2V’.
Pangolins, which inhabit southern China, India, Southeast Asia, Africa, and other regions, were identified as the ‘intermediate host’ during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
When the research team infected four lab rats with ‘GX_P2V’, all died within eight days. The researchers said, “The mortality rate is alarmingly fast.” They reported that the virus spread to the rats’ brains, eyes, and lungs, and while the virus detected in the lungs decreased two days before death, it drastically increased in the brain. They added that severe brain infection appears to be the main cause of death in the rats.
The rats used in this experiment were genetically modified to express ACE2 proteins found in humans, making them very similar to humans genetically. ACE2 proteins are receptors on the surface of epithelial cells that play an important role in viral infections.
The New York Post reported, “This is the first study to report a 100% mortality rate in rats infected with a coronavirus-related virus,” but added, “However, it is not yet clear what impact this variant virus will have on humans.”
Meanwhile, experts are expressing concerns about this research. It is uncertain whether the study was conducted while adhering to biological safety levels and biological safety precautions, and the potential risks of such research are too great. Dr. Gennadiy Glinskiy, a professor at Stanford Medical School, said, “This madness must stop before it’s too late.”
Previously, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that it appears the COVID-19 virus originated from bats and was transmitted to humans via pangolins as intermediate hosts. Meanwhile, this study is known to be unrelated to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, which has been pointed to as a potential origin of the yet-to-be-identified source of COVID-19.
By. Sharon Lee