The pandemic brought to light the risky research methods that the government had financed for years despite opposition. And yet, the US government is creating a deadly hybrid monkeypox strain.
In order to conduct extremely contentious research on mice, a government lab in Maryland intends to make the prevalent monkeypox strain more deadly.
The researchers hope to inject genes from another strain that produces severe illness into the dominant clade, which usually induces a rash and flu-like symptoms.
They believe that the trial will disclose how different genes make monkeypox more lethal, paving the way for the creation of better human medicines and vaccines.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a research division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is funding the most recent monkeypox study.
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However, Dr. Richard Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, claims that if the altered virus mistakenly leaks, it “poses an exceptionally high risk” to the general public.
The Maryland researchers would contend that their work does not entail ‘enhancing’ of a virus since they are switching natural mutations instead of producing new ones, which means the hybrid cannot be more lethal than the existing clades.
However, several Americans will be surprised to learn that such research is still being conducted in the United States, despite worries that similar procedures may have sparked the pandemic.
The work of the Maryland team is being overseen by NIAID researcher Bernard Moss at the organization’s Bethesda headquarters.
During this stage of the study, dozens of genes will be retrieved from the more dangerous clade 1 monkeypox virus and inserted into the less hazardous clade 2 virus.
They will then treat mice with the hybrid virus and observe how the condition develops.
The scientists had previously done the opposite, exchanging genetic materials from the less virulent clade into clade 1 to make it less lethal, but had failed.
The present global outbreak is being propelled by clade 2, a less lethal West African monkeypox strain with a fatality rate of less than 1%.
However, Clade 1 kills one out of every ten persons it infects. It originated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is mostly found in the Congo Basin.
When the Maryland experiment was approved in 2018, it was excluded from inspection because monkeypox did not match the criteria for a ‘potential pandemic pathogen.’
To qualify as a PPP, the pathogen must be extensively communicable, with the ability to spread uncontrollably and be extremely deadly.
However, monkeypox outbreaks were limited to Africa at the time, and the virus did not travel readily amongst people.
Cases in the United States were almost invariably traced all the way back to imported animals or travelers who had visited Central or Western African countries.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is preparing to review the research now that monkeypox is prevalent and there have been more than 26,000 cases in the US.
However, since this team is employing existing mutations, the work may not qualify as ‘enhancing’ a PPP, according to the agency.
Dr Ebright stated: ‘A laboratory-generated monkeypox virus… more lethal than, and as transmissible as, the monkeypox virus currently circulating in humans potentially likely would defeat protection by vaccines and likely would spread beyond current at-risk populations to the general population.
‘The risk-benefit ratio is essentially infinite, comprising potentially existential risks.’
The NIH and the Department of Health and Human Services met last month to draft proposed rule modifications (read below) to the NIH’s Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight policy in light of increased concern over such research.
One of the suggested improvements is to broaden the definition of a “potential pandemic pathogen” to include both less virulent but highly transmissible pathogens as well as less transmissible but more harmful pathogens.
If the rule change is implemented next year, it will impose harsher restrictions on the type of study on monkeypox viruses that is planned to begin at NIH.
The most recent argument over dangerous monkeypox research follows years of vehement disagreement over gain of function research, which many people believe led to the Covid pandemic.
The pandemic brought to light the risky research methods that the government had financed for years despite opposition, pausing for a while in 2014 but starting up again three years later.
The unverified theory that the coronavirus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, continues to be at the focus of high-profile discussions regarding the advantages of gain of function.
After DailyMail reported that a Boston University team had created a hybrid Covid virus by fusing the Omicron and original Wuhan strains, it was discovered that the virus had an 80% fatality rate in mice.
Boston University maintains that their study wasn’t a gain of function because the initial wild strain killed 100% of mice exposed to it, implying that their work actually lowered the virus’s lethality.
Researchers injected the original Wuhan strain of Covid with Omicron’s spike protein, which aids in cell invasion and renders it much more contagious.
Some professionals justified the research, arguing it could increase our comprehension of Covid and how to treat and vaccinate against it, but detractors argue the advantages do not warrant the danger of a leak.
Due to the hybrid strain’s combination of Omicron’s fast rate of transmission and the original’s high lethality, it immediately raised alarm because it had the worst characteristics of the virus.
Read the document below: