Scientists at the university were accused of engaging in dangerous experiments similar to those that are believed to have caused the original COVID outbreak. The news organization alleged that Boston University conducted gain-of-function research.
In 2017, the National Institutes of Health began to use government funds to conduct gain-of-function research. From 2014 to 2017, the practice was halted because of concerns that the dangerous research could inadvertently cause a pandemic.
Professor Shmuel Shapira, a leading scientist in the Israeli government, told the Daily Mail that virus manipulation research "should be totally forbidden" and added, "It's playing with fire."
Dr. Richard Ebright, a chemist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, told the Daily Mail that the experiments conducted in Boston are "a clear example of gain-of-function research."
"If we are to avoid a next lab-generated pandemic, it is imperative that oversight of enhanced potential pandemic pathogen research be strengthened," Ebright said.
A microbiology professor at the U.K.'s University of East Anglia, David Livermore, told the Daily Mail that, "Given the strong likelihood that the COVID pandemic originated from the escape of a lab-manipulated coronavirus in Wuhan, these experiments seem profoundly unwise."
A Boston University spokesperson told the news organization that the purpose of the research was to "provide a public benefit by leading to better, targeted therapeutic interventions to help fight against future pandemics."
When mice were exposed to the new hybrid variant created by the school's scientists, 80% of the mice died, the Daily Mail reported. However, when the same species of mice was presented with the Omicron variant, all subjects survived and only suffered "mild" symptoms.
"In ... mice, while Omicron causes mild, non-fatal infection, the Omicron S-carrying virus inflicts severe disease with a mortality rate of 80 percent," the university's paper stated.
The University of Boston denied that its experiments were for gain-of-function research, calling the claim "false and inaccurate."
"First, this research is not gain-of-function research, meaning it did not amplify the Washington state SARS-CoV-2 virus strain or make it more dangerous," the university argued. "In fact, this research made the virus replicate less dangerous."
Boston University noted that the mice used in the study were "highly susceptible" and argued that it was the original strain of the virus that caused the mice to perish, not the hybrid variant.
The school noted that the program was approved in March 2020 by the "Boston University Institutional Biosafety committee, Boston Biosafety Committee and Boston Public Health Commission."