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Scientific consensus still points to natural origin for COVID

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-06-08 15:06


Scientists have said the novel coronavirus is more likely to be a product of nature than the product of a laboratory, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

In March 2020, a group of evolutionary virologists analyzed the genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2 and found "it was overwhelmingly likely that this virus had never been manipulated in any laboratory".

Like SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, two kinds of earlier coronaviruses, the scientists theorized SARS-CoV-2 "spilled over" from its natural reservoir host – bats – to a new one – humans.

The study carefully examined whether key elements of the virus, particularly the spike protein on its surface, appeared engineered. They did not.

Another key feature is the furin cleavage site, which is often cited as evidence of laboratory origin. The furin site of SARS-CoV-2 has odd features that no human would design.

"The SARS-CoV-2 site has more of the hallmarks of sloppy natural evolution than a human hand," the newspaper wrote.

An analysis conducted last year showed the virus was a product of genetic recombination, a natural feature of coronavirus replication and evolution.

The evolutionary trajectory of SARS-CoV-2 further undermines claims the virus is artificial and designed for human transmission, according to the article published in the Washington-headquartered newspaper.

Moreover, the epidemiological evidence from the World Health Organization's origins mission report from this spring also further bolsters the natural-origin hypothesis.

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