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Boston University’s COVID strain kills 80% of mice, not people

Researchers at Boston University studied the effects of a lab-made strain of COVID on a type of mouse that is highly susceptible to the virus.

Researchers at Boston University have come under fire on social media in recent weeks over claims about a laboratory-made coronavirus strain.

A few Man upon Social media The university claimed to have created a new strain with an 80% human mortality rate.

“Why are scientists developing a new lethal COVID strain that kills 80% of those infected? And who will allow them to do that?” One Person wrote on twitter.

Several VERIFY readers have asked about Boston University research. Michael asked, “Is it true that Boston University made his COVID strain with an 80% mortality rate?”


Did Boston University Create a COVID Strain with 80% Human Mortality?

source of information


No, Boston University didn’t create a COVID strain with an 80% human mortality rate.

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what we found

Researchers at Boston University’s National Institute of Emerging Infectious Diseases (NEIDL) created a COVID-19 strain that combined the Omicron variant’s spike protein with properties of the original coronavirus and infected mice with the hybrid virus.

According to preprint studies80% of mice infected with an as-yet-unpeer-reviewed, laboratory-made strain died.

The strain the researchers created was actually less dangerous than the original coronavirus strain, which killed 100% of infected mice, the study says.

Researcher at NEIDL Said This study aimed to compare the BA.1 omicron variant with the original coronavirus strain.

Omicron variants are usually less severe than previous COVID-19 strains, so researchers at Boston University believe that “what part of the virus determines how seriously a person gets sick.” I was looking into it. Ronald B. Corey He explained that he is the Director of NEIDL and Chair of Microbiology at the BU Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.

The researchers weren’t trying to make a virus more deadly or dangerous to humans, and experts say this strain would be less lethal.

More from VERIFY: Claims Pfizer didn’t know if COVID vaccine prevented transmission before deployment lacks context

Misleading social media posts Preprint research abstract Published online.

A lab-created COVID-19 recombinant strain created by BU researchers that combines the Omicron mutant spike protein with the “backbone” of the original coronavirus strain is a “mild and lethal” strain of Omicron alone. Not an infection ”.

However, the post omits that the 80% mortality rate is in the type of mouse that is “highly susceptible” to the virus, and that this result cannot be translated to humans.

“These are the numbers we would expect from an animal model that is made to be highly sensitive and susceptible to being knocked down by the coronavirus,” said longtime drug discovery researcher Dr. Derek Lowe. Commentary article on his Science Magazine blog About Boston University research.

“This doesn’t mean it happens to humans. It definitely doesn’t,” Rowe added.

In his blog post, Lowe also said that early strains of the coronavirus didn’t lead to 100% mortality in humans the way the original strain did in mice.

“We build animal models like this to make quick and robust comparisons between mouse experiments, not to take numbers from them and think they directly lead to human disease.” he writes

In a statement provided to VERIFY, Boston University said the study was not “gain of function.” news headline Suggests, “That means we didn’t expand Washington [original] SARS-COV-2 virus strain or what makes it more dangerous. ”

“In fact, this study made the virus less likely to replicate,” the university wrote in a statement.

The study found that 80% of mice infected with the laboratory-made recombinant virus died, suggesting that the Omicron spike protein is not responsible for the mild disease associated with the subspecies. about it.

“In this mouse model, we don’t have the Omicron spike, which makes the Omicron virus so lethal,” Lowe said of the study, because it’s still pretty bad.

More from VERIFY: yes the updated omicron booster was tested on mice not humans before approval

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https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/verify/coronavirus-verify/did-boston-university-create-new-covid-strain-80-percent-mortality-rate-humans/536-2e7fbf16-5c23-4a8d-8e43-e3deaad446dd Boston University’s COVID strain kills 80% of mice, not people

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