Medical researchers with the Chinese army engineered mice with humanized lungs in 2019 to test viruses on them, it has been reported.
The mice, developed using CRISPR gene-editing technology, were mentioned in an April 2020 study which researched their susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness, Vanity Fair revealed in its bombshell investigation.
Of the study's 23 co-authors, 11 of them worked for the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, the medical research institute for the Chinese army.
Investigators with the U.S. National Security Council, researching the origins of the pandemic, determined that the mice referenced in the study were created in the summer of 2019 - just months before the emergence of the pandemic.
The National Security Council investigators also reportedly believed they had 'uncovered important evidence' supporting the theory that COVID-19 had leaked from a lab and began reaching out to other federal agencies, Vanity Fair reported.
'We were dismissed. The response was very negative,' said Anthony Ruggiero, the a senior director at the National Security Council.
Shi Zhengli, the Wuhan Institute of Virology lead researcher on coronaviruses known as the 'Bat Woman' for her research on bat viruses, appears to have tested at least two novel coronaviruses on humanized mice in the last three years, Vanity Fair also revealed - citing comments she made to a scientific journal and grant information.