Boston University Defends Controversial Study On COVID Hybrid Strain With ’80 Percent’ Mortality Rate in Mice

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Boston University issued a statement Tuesday defending its research of a COVID-19 Omicron strain when they took the variant’s spike protein and attached it to the original COVID-19 strain, leading to a higher mortality rate in a certain species of mice, triggering concern among lawmakers.

“The Omicron S-bearing virus robustly escapes vaccine-induced humoral immunity, mainly due to mutations in the receptor-binding motif… while Omicron causes mild, non-fatal infection, the Omicron S-carrying virus inflicts severe disease with a mortality rate of 80 percent,” the preprint study said.

Health personnel work at the COVID-19 area in a file photo. (Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images)

One lawmaker, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), said that the research entailed “lethal gain of function virus research” that creates the “potential to kill more people than any singular nuclear weapon.” Marshal, a doctor, added that “viruses have managed to escape even the most secure labs” and said such “research must stop immediately while the risks and benefits can be investigated.”

Meanwhile, Emily Erbelding, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’s division of microbiology and infectious diseases, told Stat News that the Boston University’s grant application didn’t specify that researchers wanted to perform this work and the group did not say it was performing experiments to possible enhance a COVID-19 variant. An investigation is now underway, she said.

Boston University issued a lengthy statement defending its research and said critics have misrepresented the goals of the study while refuting allegations that the study involved gain-of-function research, which can make a pathogen more deadly or transmissible.

The research was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), which consists of scientists as well as local community members,” the statement from Boston University said. “The Boston Public Health Commission also approved the research. Furthermore, this research mirrors and reinforces the findings of other, similar research performed by other organizations, including the FDA. Ultimately, this research will provide a public benefit by leading to better, targeted therapeutic interventions to help fight against future pandemics.”

Certain reports about the study were “false and inaccurate,” Boston University official Ronald Corley said in a statement. A report from the Daily Mail, he alleged, took the “80 percent” line out of context.

“We want to address the false and inaccurate reporting about Boston University COVID-19 research, which appeared today in the Daily Mail,” said the statement. “First, this research is not gain-of-function research, meaning it did not amplify the Washington state SARS-CoV-2 virus strain or make it more dangerous. In fact, this research made the virus replicate less dangerous.”

Lab Escape?

Addressing concerns that the manipulated COVID-19 Omicron strain could escape Boston University’s laboratory, Corley said the school takes safety seriously.

We take our safety and security of how we handle pathogens seriously, and the virus does not leave the laboratory in which it’s being studied,” he said. “Our whole goal is for the public’s health. And this study was part of that, finding what part of the virus is responsible for causing severe disease. If we can understand that, we can then develop the tools that we need to develop better therapeutics.”

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