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Scientists Linked to Wuhan Lab Accused of Performing Dangerous Experiments That Could Cause Leak

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

A team from the University of North Carolina published a paper detailing how they had synthesised a Mers-like bat virus. I wish i was kidding

In a recent and deeply concerning development, a group of scientists, including Professor Ralph Baric and Trevor Scobey, has once again raised eyebrows due to their risky experiments involving a Mers-like bat virus. This virus, notorious for its high fatality rate, was synthesized and then subjected to testing on human cells and mice, all conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina.

The truly alarming aspect of this situation is the association of some of these scientists with Professor Shi Zhengli, who is affiliated with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It's worth noting that prior to the pandemic, they worked together on creating chimeric viruses by essentially mixing and matching components from various bat viruses with the original Sars virus.

The specific experiment under scrutiny deployed a 'reverse genetics' technique to re-create a Mers-like bat virus known as BtCoV-422, originally obtained by Shi Zhengli's team in China back in 2019. While the scientists argue that their primary goal was to evaluate the effectiveness of antiviral treatments against such infections, experts are openly expressing outrage over the recklessness of these experiments and the potential gains they offer.

Anton van der Merwe, a Professor of Molecular Immunology at Oxford University, didn't mince words when he pointed out that these experiments carry a grave risk of generating virus variants better suited for infecting humans. The mere possibility of human error or equipment failure adds another layer of concern, as an infected individual could unwittingly become a vector for spreading the virus beyond the confines of the laboratory, potentially setting the stage for a devastating pandemic.

Despite the relatively low risk, the potential consequences are catastrophic, and the supposed benefits of these experiments remain murky at best. The development of vaccines or antiviral drugs based on such research can only be tested during an actual pandemic, leaving many to question whether these experiments are justified.

Professor Baric's 'reverse genetics' technique, which essentially allows scientists to play with the genetic code of viruses and bring them to life, played a central role in these experiments. Although the research showed that the virus could efficiently replicate in human airway and lung cells and induce infections in mice, the effectiveness of antivirals remained somewhat modest.

However, critics argue that these experiments could have been carried out using a much safer pseudovirus model rather than resorting to a live virus. "Pseudovirus experiments should have been the first things they did, before making this live virus," one anonymous scientist remarked. They also pointed out that testing in humanized mice, rather than merely in cell culture, significantly elevated the risks involved.

Marc Lipsitch, a Professor at Harvard University, voiced skepticism about why the team opted for creating a live virus when pseudoviruses could have provided a considerably safer alternative for their research.

Furthermore, concerns were raised about the safety protocols in place during these experiments, which were conducted at Biosafety Level (BSL) 3, rather than the highest BSL-4 level. The history of accidental releases from BSL-3 labs underscores the imperative need for extreme caution, especially when dealing with potentially pandemic organisms. The overarching question remains: Were the risks associated with these experiments ever justified, considering the grave consequences that could unfold?

But most importantly.

Trust No Single Source

Trust Your Gut &

Stay Curious

Sally Joe

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