An Ebola-like pathogen is said to have killed numerous animals in a Chinese laboratory within a few days. The project aims to help fight infectious diseases better – but is reminiscent of the animal experiments that some people blame for the outbreak of the corona pandemic.

China. Researchers are working in a laboratory until they finally find it: a new virus. One that kills. First it causes eye ulcers in hamsters. Then fever. And finally kills them after just three days.

What may sound like terrible science fiction to some may remind others of a theory about the coronavirus outbreak. To date, it has not been conclusively determined whether Sars-CoV-2 originated in a laboratory in Wuhan. However, that does not stop scientists from continuing to research dangerous viruses with the aim of fighting them.

First of all, the all-clear: what the scientists in China are currently working on is, according to their own statements, harmless to humans. The team from Hebei Medical University made this clear in a study in the journal “Science”. According to them, the virus, which is similar to the Ebola pathogen, is “safe”.

And not only that. Its development also represents an “effective and economical tool for the rapid preclinical evaluation of medical countermeasures against the Ebola virus,” the British “Independent” quotes the scientists as saying. For example, vaccines against Ebola could be validated with the virus created.

In the study, hamsters were infected with the virus. Within a few days, they first developed ulcers on their eyes and developed fever. Eventually, they suffered multiple organ failure and all died within two to three days. The symptoms were similar to those of an Ebola infection.

“Ebola is a rare and life-threatening infectious disease,” writes the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The disease is caused by the Ebola virus. It has so far only occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.

The first symptoms are similar to a flu infection:

According to the RKI, after three to ten days

be added.

And: As the disease progresses, other symptoms may appear, including

Ebola is considered life-threatening and claims many lives every year. According to Unicef, there are high numbers of unreported cases, both in terms of the number of infected people and the number of deaths. According to official figures, over 11,000 people died in the worst Ebola epidemic to date between 2014 and 2016, although the actual number is certainly significantly higher.

The exact number of deaths is also difficult to determine. However, it is assumed that, depending on the outbreak, between 30 and 90 percent of those infected die. The overall mortality rate is therefore around 50 percent.

In order to research and fight diseases such as Ebola, high safety standards are required worldwide. The so-called BSL conditions indicate the biological safety level (biosafety level), which indicates the respective risk potential.

There are four levels:

Factors taken into account include the risk of infection, the severity of the disease and treatment options. Depending on the level, certain precautions must be taken, such as waste being disposed of in a special way.

The Ebola virus is generally classified as BSL-4 – the highest level, as the RKI emphasizes. There are only four laboratories in Germany that work under these conditions.

However, the Chinese research team hopes to be able to conduct research under BSL-2 conditions with the newly developed virus, which is only similar to Ebola. This would make more laboratories around the world suitable. And this could “accelerate technological progress and breakthroughs in the fight against Ebola virus disease.”

Despite all safety measures, animal testing of this kind is controversial. Not least, theories about the origin of the coronavirus have shaken up the debate about such laboratory tests again.