Coronavirus not lab made, has natural origins: Scientists
New Delhi : A new study by the US researchers has clarified the speculations which claimed that the novel coronavirus was created in a laboratory and got leaked from a bio-warfare facility. They claimed that Covid-19 has natural origins.
Based on publicly available genome sequence data of the virus released earlier by Chinese scientists, researchers at the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the Scripps Research Institute found that the virus could not be a “laboratory construct” or “purposefully manipulated.”
The study has been published in Nature Medicine journal on March 17.
According to the study, there are two natural scenarios through which the virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, may have originated. The findings are against several claims which have been made via blogs, discussions that it may be a bio-weapon.
More than 7000 people have died because of coronavirus.
"By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes," said Kristian Andersen, associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research and corresponding author on the paper in ScienceDaily.
The two scenarios suggested by the authors of the study are that the virus may have evolved through natural selection of an intermediate host animal and then transferred to humans from that animal.
Co-author Andrew Rambaut of the University of Edinburgh said it was difficult to ascertain at this point which of the scenarios was most likely.
"Even before this study within the scientific community, it was clear that the virus was not designed on purpose. This is simply because the genetic sequence and molecular structure of Coronaviruses in earlier outbreaks like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was very different," said Shashank Tripathi, assistant professor and Wellcome Trust India Alliance intermediate fellow, Microbiology & Cell Biology Department, Centre for Infectious Disease Research, Indian Institute of Science.
Tripathi, commenting on the issue in his individual capacity, added: "The structure of SARS-CoV-2 is too far apart from those and that it was not designed or replicated. The closest match of the virus structure is in fact those found in horseshoe bats and pangolins."