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Updated January 18th, 2024 at 02:07 IST

'Madness Must Stop': Experts Alarmed As China Lab Experiments 'Deadly' COVID Strain

Recent experiment by Chinese scientists on a lethal COVID strain - GX_P2V has raised alarm among scientists. Read the detailed report here.

Digital Desk
Covid-19
Chinese Scientists Creating Mutant Coronavirus Strain with 100% Kill Rate In Mice: Report | Image:Freepik
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New Delhi: Just as everything was starting to fall into place, Chinese labs are once again playing with fire it seems. Latest reports suggest that scientists in Beijing have reportedly conducted experiments on a newly identified coronavirus strain, GX_P2V, revealing alarming outcomes. The strain, a mutation of GX/2017 initially discovered in Malaysian pangolins in 2017, exhibited a 100% fatality rate in genetically modified mice. 

Originating from Beijing, a recent study underlined the rapid and deadly effects of GX_P2V on mice with genetically human-like structures. The virus, affecting various organs, including the brain, resulted in swift deterioration, ultimately leading to the death of the mice within eight days. “This underscores a spillover risk of GX_P2V into humans and provides a unique model for understanding the pathogenic mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2-related viruses,” the authors wrote.

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‘Madness Must Stop’

However, Francois Balloux, an expert from the University College London, slammed the study, terming it pointless.  “It's a terrible study, scientifically totally pointless. I can see nothing of vague interest that could be learned from force-infecting a weird breed of humanised mice with a random virus. Conversely, I could see how much stuff might go wrong," he posted on X (formerly Twitter).  

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Echoing similar remarks, Dr. Gennadi Glinsky, a retired professor said, "This madness must be stopped before too late." 

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100% Kill Rate in Mice

According to a report by The Daily Mail, the strain has a 100% kill rate in mice. As per the media report, scientists in Beijing - linked to the Chinese military - have cloned a COVID-like virus found in pangolins to infect mice.  GX_P2V infected the lungs, bones, eyes, tracheas, and brains of the deceased mice, with the severe brain infection proving fatal. Days before their deaths, the mice experienced rapid weight loss, adopted a hunched posture, and displayed sluggish movements. Strikingly eerie, their eyes turned completely white just a day before succumbing to the virus."

A Spillover Risk of GX_P2V Into Humans

The media outlet further reported that scientists have warned in a currently unpublished paper that the finding 'underscores a spillover risk of GX_P2V into humans'. The team also found high levels of viral load in the mice's brains and eyes, suggesting that the pathogen spreads through the body in a way unlike COVID. 

The 2024 study, however, seems to be separate from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology, a focal point in theories about the lab leak during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite investigations by US intelligence agencies over the summer revealing no direct evidence of a lab leak from Wuhan, they did not entirely dismiss the possibility that the virus could have originated from another source. The origins of COVID-19 remain unclear.

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Published January 18th, 2024 at 00:05 IST

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