No, scientists haven’t ‘created a deadly new strain of Covid’

Faced with accusations from the Daily Mail, the Boston University researchers quickly responded in an official press release. They refute the tabloid’s conclusions.

This release of Daily mail makes a lot of noise. In a recent article, the British newspaper revealed that a team from Boston University (USA) had created a hybrid virus – combining Omicron and the original Wuhan strain – responsible for the death of 80% of mice in a study. To read this article, it would be research into the gain of function, that is, the deliberate manipulation of viruses to make them more infectious or more lethal.

False, answer the researchers, who accuse the tabloid of distorting the results of their study. In an official statement, the researchers condemn the misleading claims. They call these conclusions false and inaccurate. Conversely, the researchers assure that their experience even makes the virus less dangerous. “They sensationalized the message, they misrepresent the entire study and its objectivesadded Ronald B. Corley Director of NEIDL and Director of Microbiology at the BU Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.

Better understand the strain of the virus

The university recalls that the research was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Biosafety Board (IBC), which is made up of researchers as well as members of the local community, and that the Boston Public Health Commission had also approved the research.

So what was this study for? This study aimed to investigate proteins on the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron (BA.1) variant. The researchers thus wanted to compare the variant with the original virus strain. “They wanted to know if the virus really was less virulent simply because it did not infect the same cells as the original strain.“, explains the scientist.

“A statement taken out of context”

Ronald B. Corley objects to the allegations made by the Daily Mail and categorically denies the accusations: “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 has made the virus to replicate itself less dangerous“. He explains that the media published the result of”80% more deadlyand distorted the objectives of this study: “This was a statement taken out of context for the purpose of sensationalism and it misrepresents not only the results as well as the purpose of the study.

Through this official press release, the researcher also defends himself against any danger to the population: “We take the safety of how we handle pathogens seriously, and the virus does not leave the laboratory where it is studied“. Before you conclude: “Our entire focus is public health. And this study was one of those that found out which part of the virus is responsible for the serious illness. If we can understand this, then we can develop the tools we need to develop better therapies.“.

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