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Chinese military researchers were part of a project that created mice with “humanized” lungs — apparently to test the infectiousness of various viruses, according to a blockbuster report Thursday. The bio-engineered rodents were developed using gene-editing technology known as CRISPR and are mentioned in an April 2020 study that US government virologists flagged for National Security Council officials investigating the origin of the coronavirus, Vanity Fair said. The study’s 23 co-authors include 11 who work for the Chinese army’s medical research institute, the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, and their project involved determining the mice’s susceptibility to the virus that causes COVID-19. But when the NSC investigators worked backward to establish a timeline for the study, they realized that the critters were created sometime during summer 2019 — before the coronavirus pandemic exploded, according to Vanity Fair. That discovery reportedly led NSC officials to suspect that the Chinese military was using the mice to test whether various viruses could infect humans — and that they’d uncovered evidence supporting the theory that the pandemic was the result of a lab leak.

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