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Deadly lab tests may spark brain-swelling Nipah virus pandemic

VIRUS researchers have been urged to "stop helping Mother Nature kill us" with deadly lab tests that could spark another pandemic.


While questions still rage over whether Covid leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology during chilling bat tests, millions continues to be dished out for risky animal experiments.

The US Department of Energy and the FBI have now both concluded Covid most likely leaked from the lab in China.


And experts have repeatedly warned that the world could sleepwalk into another deadly pandemic unless lessons are learned from the last three years.


Professor Colin Butler - who penned a report for the UN on the origins of Covid - said he has been sounding the alarm about the dangers of souping up viruses in labs since 2012.


Public health expert Laura Kahn has also urged researchers to "stop helping mother nature kill us" by "messing with viruses to see what a pandemic virus might look like".


They are both members of Protect Our Future - a new group of scientists demanding strict oversight of dangerous research and a "future free of lab-generated pandemics".


Current projects around the world include experiments on the Nipah virus in Bangladesh using bats and hamsters.


The brain-swelling disease - which can leave you bleeding out of your eyes or cause deafness - is listed as a potential threat to mankind by the World Health Organisation.


Nipah is extremely deadly - with a death rate of between 40 to 75 per cent - but the virus has only ever triggered local outbreaks, Prof Butler said.


In a chilling warning, he said "highly dangerous" tests on deadly pathogens such as Nipah could have the power to spark another pandemic.


"If scientists are doing work on Nipah to try and see how it develops or becomes more contagious - please don't," he told The Sun Online.


"It clearly should be banned. It's highly dangerous. It's not just Nipah, there's quite a few more like that.


"Can you imagine someone in a lab thinking, 'I want to play around with the Ebola virus, maybe we could make it airborne in animals'.


"That sort of experiment shouldn't be contemplated.


"There's a whole range of organisms that should not be experimented on. It's just far too dangerous.


"But if they do this work in the labs, maybe it could [become a pandemic].


"This definitely shouldn't be happening - especially with pandemic-potential pathogens.


"The benefits we might get from it is theoretical, and there is a risk of them escaping. I've really come to believe this."


And public health expert Laura Kahn said there's worrying evidence that researchers are also currently experimenting with MERS - a much deadlier virus than Covid.


"There's concern this type of research is still ongoing," the co-founder of the One Health Initiative told The Sun Online.


"Until we have an open, honest, transparent discussion, we are going to continue to wrestle with this.


"It's crazy, we shouldn't be helping mother nature kill us."


She urged those at the heart of the Covid pandemic to step forward to make sure lessons can be learned.


"A nuclear physicist took responsibility for the atomic bombs and tried to make sure this didn't happen again," Kahn said.


"The virology community is going to have to take accountability for what they likely did, and make sure it doesn't happen again."


Kahn has called for so-called "gain of function" research to be "globally condemned and banned".


"I see zero benefits of doing this kind of work. The risks far outweigh the benefits," she said.

Dozens of experts - including the World Health Organisation - have suggested Covid could have escaped from Wuhan lab.


They claim the Wuhan Institute of Virology endangered the world by carrying out so-called "gain of function" experiments to engineer chimeric viruses.


So-called "gain of function" involves extracting viruses from animals to engineer in a lab to make them more transmissible and deadly to humans.


Scientists and researchers have not yet been able to determine the origins of the pandemic - with a lab leak and a natural source both being probed.


As the search for answers continues, Texas Rep Briscoe Cain introduced a resolution in January urging Congress to investigate whether a lab leak in Wuhan sparked the pandemic.

The newly-installed US House majority said it is prioritising investigations into the origins of Covid.


The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic has demanded the release of US intelligence pointing to a lab leak by March 13.


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