After analyzing the genetic makeup of COVID-19, scientists found no evidence of the presence of another known virus in the strain, which would have likely been the case if Coronavirus was human-made.
Moreover, the genetic analysis revealed some peculiar features which they were able to link with the biology of Pangolins, aka “the scaly anteater.”
Conspiracy theories piling up
Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, various conspiracy theories have been revolving around the virus’s origin.
One theory believed by the majority is that Covid-19 was engineered inside a lab. Fueling the theory is the fact that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is close to the wet market, where the virus has likely originated.
This has made people believe that, intentionally or unintentionally, the virus escaped the lab and somehow reached Wuhan’s wet market.
However, these claims cannot be ignored completely since accidental releases have happened in the past, according to Kristian Andersen, an infectious disease researcher at Scripps Research Institute and also the co-author of the study.
Coronavirus didn’t come from a lab
Scientists around the world have been keeping an eye on the genetic makeup of COVID-19 through Next Strain that keeps track of little changes in the virus.
Right from the beginning, scientists have found no evidence that the virus is man-made. Now, the new study further adds to the claim by looking at the genetic template and Coronavirus’s spike protein.
By looking at the overall structure, scientists were easily able to identify that the virus has evolved naturally. They also found it peculiar because the spike protein of the virus tightly binds to human cells called AC2.
However, researchers discovered the same genetic behavior in pangolins and bats. Interestingly, the amino acids in the spike protein of pangolins also showed tight bindings to AC2. “So clearly, this is something that can happen in nature,” said Andersen.
Overall, the evidence strongly suggests that Coronavirus is not a lab-engineered virus. Hopefully, it will cut down on some of the conspiracy theories around the origin and spread of COVID-19.