Scientists from China have reportedly been conducting experiments involving a mutant strain of coronavirus that is one hundred percent lethal to rodents, notwithstanding apprehensions that such investigations could incite another global health crisis.
A group of Beijing-based scientists, affiliated with the Chinese military, successfully replicated GX_P2V, a Covid-like virus discovered in pangolins, for the purpose of infecting rodents.
The purpose of “humanizing” the rodents, which entailed engineering them to express a protein present in humans, was to determine how the virus might react in humans.
Surprisingly, all rodents infected with the pathogen perished within eight days, according to the researchers.
High levels of viral load were also discovered in the brains and eyes of the rodents, which suggested that the virus, despite being related to Covid, replicates and spreads in a manner distinct from that of Covid.
The study conducted by the Beijing University of Chemical Technology indicates that the virus was identified in 2017, predating the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Controversially, it was identified in Malaysia within pangolins, which are reptilian mammals notorious for harboring coronaviruses and were postulated to have served as the intermediate host from which Covid was transmitted from bats to humans.
Multiple copies of the cloned virus were kept in a laboratory in Beijing, where it underwent further evolution.
The time of execution of the recently disclosed study remains ambiguous.
However, the researchers hypothesized that the virus may have now acquired a “virulence-enhancing mutation” during storage, rendering it more lethal.
A troubling prospect for a world in many ways still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.