In a study similar to the one conducted in Wuhan, China, researchers are testing a mutated form of COVID-19 that proves fatal in “humanized” mice.
The lethal virus, named GX_P2V, targeted mice brains designed to mimic humans’ genetic characteristics, as revealed in a study released from Beijing last week.
Chinese scientists warn of spillover risk as mutant COVID-like virus strain with 100% lethality targets the brain
“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 researchers stated.
In the study, all the rodents that caught the pathogens passed away in just eight days, a speed that researchers found unexpectedly fast.
The scientists were also amazed to discover high amounts of the virus in the brains and eyes of the mice, Dailymail reported. This hints that, even though the virus is connected to COVID-19, it reproduces and spreads uniquely throughout the body.
The fatal virus is a modified form of GX/2017, a coronavirus relative supposedly identified in Malaysian pangolins in 2017—three years before the global pandemic. Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are warm-climate mammals found in various parts of the world.
The GX_P2V virus had attacked various parts of the deceased mice, including their lungs, bones, eyes, tracheas, and brains. The impact on the brains was particularly severe, ultimately leading to the demise of the animals.
In the days leading up to their deaths, the mice experienced rapid weight loss, displayed a hunched posture, and moved very slowly.
Adding to the eerie nature of the situation, their eyes turned completely white on the day before they passed away, the NY Post reported. These results don’t provide insights into how the virus might impact humans.
Experts criticize ‘terrible’ research, raise biosafety concerns
While frightening, this research marks the first of its kind to reveal a 100% mortality rate in mice infected with the COVID-19-related virus.
Additionally, University College London’s Genetics Institute epidemiology expert, Francois Balloux, criticized the study, describing it as “terrible” and “scientifically totally pointless.”
“I can see nothing of vague interest that could be learned from force-infecting a weird breed of humanized mice with a random virus. Conversely, I could see how much 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.
Rutgers University professor of chemistry and chemical biology, Richard H. Ebright, agreed with Balloux’s concerns with a single word: “concur.”
Dr. Gennadi Glinsky, a retired professor of medicine at Stanford, expressed his opinion, stating, “This madness must be stopped before it’s too late.”