Chinese scientists are experimenting with a mutant Covid-19 strain that has a 100 per cent kill streak in “humanised” mice.
The deadly virus — known as GX_P2V — attacked the brains of mice that were engineered to reflect similar genetic makeup to people, according to a study shared last week out of Beijing.
“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.
The deadly virus is a mutated version of GX/2017, a coronavirus cousin that was reportedly discovered in Malaysian pangolins in 2017 — three years before the pandemic, The NY Post reports.
All the mice that were infected with the virus died within just eight days, which researchers noted was a “surprisingly” rapid death rate.
GX_P2V had infected the lungs, bones, eyes, tracheas and brains of the dead mice, the last of which was severe enough to ultimately cause the death of the animals.
In the days before their deaths, the mice had quickly lost weight, exhibited a hunched posture and moved extremely sluggishly.
Most eerie of all, their eyes turned completely white the day before they died.
Although terrifying, the study is the first of its kind to report a 100% mortality rate in mice infected by the COVID-19 related virus — far surpassing previously reported results from another study, the researchers wrote.
More importantly, the results of the study do not clearly indicate how it would impact human beings.
Francois Balloux, an epidemiology expert at the University College London’s Genetics Institute, slammed the research as “terrible” and “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 such stuff might go wrong,” the professor wrote on X.
“The preprint does not specify the biosafety level and biosafety precautions used for the research,” he continued.
“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, recklessly was performed without the minimal biosafety containment and practices essential for research with a potential pandemic pathogens.”
Professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Ruger’s University Richard H. Ebright backed up Balloux’s concerns with a simple: “concur.”
Dr Gennadi Glinsky, a retired professor of medicine at Stanford, wrote: “This madness must be stopped before too late.”
The 2024 study does not appear to have any ties to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was the centre of lab leak theories surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
US intelligence agencies over the summer found no direct evidence that the lab leaked the coronavirus, though did not rule out the possibility that the virus came from a different one.
The origin of COVID-19 is still unclear.
This article originally appeared in The NY Post and was reproduced with permission.