Brain Swelling Virus With Onset Symptoms Similar to COVID Kills 12-Year-Old Indian Boy

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Health officials in full protective gear walk inside an isolation ward of Ernakulam Medical College in Kochi in the Indian southwestern state of Kerala on June 6, 2019. 12-year-old Indian boy Mohammed Hashim died of Nipah virus in a new outbreak earlier this week. The virus causes onset symptoms similar to that of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, but leads to encephalitis and mortality rate as high as 70 percent.
Health officials in full protective gear walk inside an isolation ward of Ernakulam Medical College in Kochi in the Indian southwestern state of Kerala on June 6, 2019. 12-year-old Indian boy Mohammed Hashim died of Nipah virus in a new outbreak earlier this week. The virus causes onset symptoms similar to that of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, but leads to encephalitis and mortality rate as high as 70 percent. (Image: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

A 12-year-old boy in India has died after contracting a virus with similar onset symptoms to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), but that causes inflammation of the brain and comes with an extremely high mortality rate. 

In the Indian state of Kerala, a Sept. 6 article by The Telegraph reports authorities scrambling to contact trace 180 people the child came in contact with as he was shuttled between five different hospitals. Two health workers and the boy’s mother were quarantined after developing symptoms.

An updated Sept. 7 article by The Hindu identified the boy as Mohammed Hashim. The article quoted Health Minister Veena George as saying the child came into contact with 251 people, 129 of which are health care workers. 54 of the contacts are classified as high risk, while 38 are in quarantine at a government facility with 11 displaying symptoms.

George said the boy was shuttled between four public hospitals because the facilities were struggling with operating capacity due to COVID-19 associated patients. He was finally admitted to a private hospital, where he passed away.

The boy was diagnosed with Nipah virus (NiV), a variety of the Henipavirus family, which the CDC notes can spread between animals and people, and similar to the Coroanvirus family, is also found in the wild in the bat population, “The animal host reservoir for NiV is the fruit bat (genus Pteropus), also known as the flying fox. Given that NiV is genetically related to Hendra virus, another henipavirus known to be carried by bats, bat species were quickly singled out for investigation and flying foxes were subsequently identified as the reservoir.”

The CDC also notes the mortality rate for infection victims is a staggering 40 and 70 percent based on outbreak documentation from 1998 to 2018. 

In 2018, The Telegraph, while reporting on an outbreak of Nipah, also in the state of Kerala, found 17 out of 19 infected patients died. The outlet quoted now-controversy laden Ecohealth Alliance head Peter Daszak as commenting on the case, “There have been no new cases of the disease for a week or so and all the suspected cases have shown to be negative,” Daszak said at the time. 

“But the virus takes a week or longer to incubate so it’s still possible it’s out there.”

The Telegraph noted, “The initial symptoms of the Nipah virus are similar to those of Covid-19 and include fever, headaches, and muscle pain. However, if not treated immediately the infection can progress to encephalitis – inflammation of the brain – within days.”

While there are no drugs or vaccines that currently exist to treat Nipah virus, the CDC does note on its website there is a monoclonal antibody cocktail that has completed Phase 1 clinical trials.

A COVID connection

In July, U.S. scientist Dr. Stephen Quay published a study examining some of the earliest samples taken by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) from COVID-19 patients in Wuhan City, finding the samples were contaminated with as many as 19 different pathogens.

Notably, the study found, “the most abundant contaminant is an undisclosed H7N9 influenza vaccine, which in one specimen is over six-times as abundant as SARS-CoV-2.”

Researchers also discovered in the samples, “Nipah virus gene sequences were found in infectious cloning vectors of the type used for genetic manipulation.”

Nipah virus has a connection to the WIV through Canada. In May of 2019, only a few months before the pandemic first began to appear in China, Canada’s federal law enforcement agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), quietly escorted two Chinese nationals working as researchers at Canada’s own BSL4 lab, the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML).

The RCMP was quiet on the removal of Qiu Xiangguo and her husband, Cheng Keding, saying for months that the case was merely one involving a “possible policy breach.”

The Canadian government was, likewise, quiet until August when Public Health Canada finally admitted Guo and Cheng were removed because they had shipped the WIV samples of Henipavirus and Ebola, but called the transfer part of a “routine” sharing of specimens between Canada’s and the Chinese Communist Party’s research labs.

In June of 2020, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) uncovered through Access to Information requests that the Chinese researchers had actually sent double vials of 15 different viruses to the WIV. The investigation further uncovered that not only did employment at the NML require significant secret-level security clearances, but that Qiu had flown to the WIV at least five times to train the CCP’s scientists.

The trips were funded by an entity whose identity was redacted in the disclosures.

In the time since Qiu was removed from the NML, she added 32 published papers to her name, many of which were funded by Chinese entities and partnered with Chinese scientists. 

Additionally, the CBC uncovered that Qiu had co-authored eight studies with Yan Feihu, a Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) researcher. 

The CAS is a branch of the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army through the PRC’s Military Civil Fusion initiative. Anonymous sources who spoke with the CBC confirmed Yan was present in person at the NML.

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.