TRUE OR FALSE. Covid-19: have scientists really developed a variant “fatal in 80% of cases”?

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An article from Daily mail, published earlier this week, claims that researchers at Boston University have created a particularly deadly variant of Covid-19. What exactly is it? The midi broadcast make the point.

Chaos in the halls of Boston University. Earlier this week an article came out Daily mail came to ignite the powder. Indeed, the British daily calls for the creation, in the laboratory, of a particularly dangerous “new strain” of Covid-19. This new variant – which would have been created by Omicron and the original strain of Wuhan – would have a “mortality rate of 80%”, resume our colleagues from Daily mail in this article published on Monday, October 17.

This new strain “kills the infected host in 80% of cases”, reiterates Floriant Philippot, president of “Patriots”, sharing the article on social networks. The American press claims that scientists have grafted what is called the “Spike protein” (the key that allows Covid-19 to enter our cells, ed. note) belonging to the Omicron variant “to the original Wuhan strain.”

The goal, according to the British tabloid: to create the “most contagious virus ever”. “Eight out of ten mice infected with the strain created in the laboratory died in the laboratory at Boston University”, describes the newspaper thus.

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On social networks, the news worries many Internet users. “Is the US preparing for a new epidemic? Is this a weapon for a new war?” Enrico asks on Twitter.

No “hyper-infectious” variant

What exactly is it? Simply a total misrepresentation of the research work done by Boston University. In practice, this study – the procedure and results of which have been published online – simply aimed to compare the Spike protein of the Omicron variant with that of the original virus strain discovered in Wuhan.

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Covid-19: is the BQ.1.1 variant from the Omicron family restarting the epidemic in France?

As part of this research, teams from the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) used a specific mouse species particularly sensitive to SARS-CoV-2. In this animal species, the original strain of Covid-19, detected in Wuhan, actually causes a “fatal infection”. During the tests of this research, this species of mouse actually succumbed to this virus almost eight out of ten times. Conversely, all mice that had been infected with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 “survived”: “These results indicate that the Spike protein is not the main determinant of the pathogenicity of Omicron in mice”.

BU denies a number of false media claims about research at its National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories. In a statement, the university called the reporting “false and inaccurate.”

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—Boston University (@BU_Tweets) 18 October 2022

No “hyper-infectious” variant was created by the researchers, only the original strain of the Wuhan virus killed these small rodents.

As soon as the article was published, Boston University strongly disputed the statements made in it Daily mail, calling the article “false and inaccurate”. According to Ronald Corley, director of NEIDL, the misrepresentations that have been made about this research “are not only the results of the study, but also its goals.”

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