The mutated variant – which is a hybrid of Omicron and the original Wuhan virus – killed 80% of mice infected with it in experiments conducted at Boston University. This is reported by the British newspaper Daily Mail.
However, when a similar group of rodents were exposed to the standard strain of Omicron, all survived and showed only “mild” symptoms.
The scientists also infected human cells with the hybrid variant and found that it was five times more infectious than Omicron. This suggests that such a man-made virus may be the most contagious yet encountered.
It will no doubt surprise many Americans that such experiments continue in the US despite concerns that similar studies may have led to the global Covid epidemic.
The coronavirus first started spreading from a market in Wuhan, China (or so the narrative goes, as to date, this scenario has not been confirmed), about 12 kilometers away from a similar high-security virology lab that was experimenting with coronaviruses of bats.
It found that Chinese scientists deleted critical databases and files while not handing over independent research on what links the particular facility to the pandemic.
In this new research, which has not been peer-reviewed, a team of researchers from Boston and Florida extracted the Omicron spike protein – the unique structure that binds to human cells as they invade the human body.
The researchers attached Omicron’s spike protein to the original killer strain of the virus that first appeared in Wuhan at the start of the pandemic.
The researchers tested how mice fared with the new hybrid strain in their bodies, compared to Omicron’s original variant.
According to what the study says: “In mice, while Omicron causes mild, non-lethal infection, the virus carrying Omicron S (the hybrid strain) causes severe disease with an 80% mortality rate.”
The researchers noted that while the spike protein is responsible for infectivity, changes in other parts of its structure determine its timeliness, and they also looked at the effect of the different strains on human lung cells grown in the lab.
They found that the original strain of the coronavirus produced high levels of infectious virus particles, but the new hybrid strain produced five times more infectious particles than Omicron!
The scientists admitted, of course, that this hybrid virus is unlikely to be as deadly in humans as it is in mice, and this is because they do not have identical immune responses, as there are many DNA variants and gene expression patterns that vary between species.
For example, the regulatory elements and behavior of many genes in the immune system, metabolic processes, and stress response differ between mice and humans.
The type of mice used in the study was developed specifically to examine severe Covid infection, but currently, no mouse model replicates all aspects of Covid in humans.
The laboratory, at Boston University’s National Laboratories for Emerging Infectious Diseases, is one of 13 biosafety level 4 laboratories in the US.
These are laboratories that are authorized to handle the most dangerous pathogens. There are also facilities in Atlanta, Texas and Manhattan, Kansas.
Experiments in these laboratories often involve working with animal viruses to advance treatments and vaccines that could be used in a future outbreak of a pandemic