The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has decided to launch an investigation into the new COVID strain research being conducted at Boston University, which has shown an 80% fatality rate.
This comes after the top NIH director admitted that she only learned of the details from the news media reports.
Dr. Emily Erbelding, a director at the NIAID division of microbiology and infectious diseases, admitted that she was unaware of the details of the research.
She said the researchers at Boston University did not clear the work with the NIAID, making the research unauthorized.
Erbedling claimed the university did not inform the NIAID.
According to a report that was published by the Daily Mail on Monday, researchers at Boston University have developed a new and deadly strain of COVID that has an 80% kill rate, similar to the experiments in Wuhan many people believe started the pandemic.
The new COVID strain was able to kill 80% of the mice who were infected with it. The mutant variant is a combination of Omicron and the original Wuhan virus.
Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories is one of only 13 biosafety level 4 facilities in the United States. The National Institute of Health is a major funder of the Biocontainment Laboratory at Boston University.
According to public documents, it was partially funded by a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for $1.1million. For any research grants awarded by the government, projects must detail how the funds will be spent and how the public will benefit, the outlet added.
The National Institutes of Health confirmed to DailyMail.com that it is looking into whether the university would have had to disclose its experiment, which was partly paid for by taxpayers’ money.
“NIH is examining the matter to determine whether the research conducted was subject to the NIH Grants Policy Statement or met the criteria for review under the [guidelines put in place by the agency],” a spokesperson told Daily Mail.
More from Daily Mail:
A spokesman for Boston University told DailyMail.com on Tuesday it ‘did not have an obligation to disclose this research’.
They said the experiments were carried out with funds from Boston University.
‘NIAID funding was acknowledged as a courtesy because it was used to help develop the tools and platforms that were used in this research, they did not fund this research directly,’ they said.
This left the school with no obligation to report the research to the agency, they added.
There is now a row about whether the study qualifies as gain-of-function.
Dr. Richard Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said it was ‘demonstrably false’ and ‘deeply embarrassing’ to suggest otherwise.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘The claims in BU’s public statement that: “this research is not gain-of-function research”, “it did not… make it more dangerous”, and “this research made the virus replicate less dangerous [sic]” are demonstrably false and should be deeply embarrassing.
‘The novel lab-generated coronavirus exhibits the high immune escape of Omicron BA.1 and higher lethality than Omicron BA.1 — albeit lower lethality than original Wuhan-1 SARS-CoV-2 — in mice engineered to display human receptors for SARS-like coronaviruses.
A Boston University spokesman told DailyMail.com today: ‘There was no gain-of-function with this research. If at any point there was evidence that the research was gaining function, under both NIAID and our own protocols, we would immediately stop and report.’
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