Boston University Researchers Develop COVID Strain With 80 Percent Kill Rate in Mice

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Researchers with Boston University developed a strain of COVID-19 that killed 80 percent of mice infected with it, according to a pre-print study released last week, prompting concern and condemnation.

A team of researchers from Boston and Florida extracted the Omicron variant’s spike protein, which they noted has “an unusually large number of mutations.” The researchers then attached Omicron’s spike protein, which is a structure that allows a virus to bind and invade human cells, to the original Wuhan COVID-19 variant that reportedly emerged in late 2019 and dubbed it “Omicron S.”

“In K18-hACE2 mice, while Omicron causes mild, non-fatal infection,” they wrote (pdf), “the Omicron S-carrying virus inflicts severe disease with a mortality rate of 80 percent. This indicates that while the vaccine escape of Omicron is defined by mutations in S, major determinants of viral pathogenicity reside outside of (Omicron) S.”

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