America first: US wins dubious placement in global ‘gain-of-function’ experiments

The United States unsurprisingly tops the list of countries that perform controversial gain-of-function research that has the potential to bring biological Armageddon down on our country and the globe.

The U.S. is number one when it comes to virus-tinkering research, according to a first-of-its-kind study that analyzed global gain-of-function experiments involving manipulating deadly pathogens and infections since 2000.

Proponents of the research claim that it assists scientists in heading off future outbreaks. But critics claim it could cause the outbreaks in the first place and that the risks far outweigh any potential benefits.

According to the study, there have been over 7,000 gain-of-function or loss-of-function studies conducted in the last two decades. The United States has been involved in over half of them, distantly followed by China.

Many experts and scientists now believe that COVID-19 resulted from a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. Gain-of-function research was ostensibly being conducted in that lab with the help of American research grants.

“The study, conducted by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, used artificial intelligence to scan 159,000 scientific literatures to find where and how often GOF and LOF studies are conducted,” the Daily Mail reported.

They found approximately 7,000 studies included this type of research and randomly chose 1,000 to manually sort through, leaving them with 488 publications,” the media outlet continued. “Of this literature, 25 percent involved only GOF work, 29 percent involved both GOF and LOF, and 46 percent involved only LOF research.”

The Daily Mail went on to detail what was further found in the study.

“Exploring which pathogens were most tested, the team found 64 percent were viruses. Nine percent of those viruses were those that belonged to the Coronaviridae family, which includes coronaviruses. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is a new strain of coronavirus in the family of Coronaviridae,” the Daily Mail noted.

(Video Credit: The Hill)

Other viruses that were researched included the flu and herpes. Twenty-four percent of the studies had something to do with vaccine development or testing.

The Georgetown team evaluated what risks each pathogen posed to humans. They found that only a small percentage of the studies included dangerous pathogens that would require strict biosafety precautions in labs.

Having said that, the team found that 58% posed a moderate risk to humans. A quarter of them were described as “agents that may cause serious and potentially lethal infections.”

Only 1% of the studies conducted involved the most dangerous pathogens “that pose a high individual risk of life-threatening disease by infectious aerosols and for which no treatment is available.” Those studies included Ebola and smallpox.

(Video Credit: Forbes)

Infecting mice with the bacteria Pseudomonas Aeruginosa which causes pneumonia was found to be an example of gain-of-function research. It does not normally infect mice, but researchers made it do so so they could see how bacteria interact with a host in an animal system.

“A gain- and loss-of-function study that occurred simultaneously saw scientists alter multiple strains of the fungus Aspergillus Fumigatus, which can cause lung infections, to study what causes the fungus to become resistant to antifungal treatments,” the Daily Mail reported. “Some of the new strains scientists created grew faster in mice than in animals infected with the original strain.”

That seems to indicate the strain is more virulent and possibly more lethal.

All it would take for bacteria or viruses to be released into the wild where humans are susceptible to it is one mistake. That is the risk for gain-of-function research and it plays Russian roulette with billions of lives.

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