A study showed a type of lab mouse is highly susceptible to a coronavirus derived from pangolins, a scaly, cat-sized mammal. This doesn’t mean the virus is dangerous to humans. The virus is related to the one that causes COVID-19 but did not descend from it, contrary to claims that it is a “mutant COVID-19 strain.” Nor did scientists “craft” the virus.
Scientists say the experiments Pfizer has performed on the coronavirus are standard for the industry. Baseless claims that the company is mutating the virus for profit, however, have been circulating since the release of a popular undercover video from the conservative activist group Project Veritas.
The U.S. indirectly funded some bat coronavirus research at a lab in Wuhan, China. But those experiments could not have led to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, because the viruses used were very different. Yet former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro repeated a false claim that Dr. Anthony Fauci “killed a lot of people” by funding the lab.
Republicans say a letter from a National Institutes of Health official is an admission that the agency funded so-called gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in China, with some falsely linking the work to the pandemic coronavirus. But the research, which the NIH maintains is not gain-of-function, could not have led to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.