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Bhavishya

Scientist revives ‘lab-origin theory’, says old bat virus may be backbone

September 16, 2020 06:55 AM

COURTESY HT SEPT 16

Scientist revives ‘lab-origin theory’, says old bat virus may be backbone
HT Correspondent

letters@hindustantimes.com

New Delhi : The Sars-Cov2 virus, which causes Covid-19, shows signs that are not usual for a naturally evolved pathogen, a group of researchers have contended, reigniting theories that the virus may have been developed in a lab – a notion that scientists and public health officials have rejected on several occasions.

The claim was made in a paper uploaded by Li-Meng Yan, who specialised in virology and immunology at the Hong Kong School of Public Health before she moved to the US where she is believed to be seeking refuge.

“SARS-CoV-2 shows biological characteristics that are inconsistent with a naturally occurring, zoonotic virus. In this report, we describe the genomic, structural, medical, and literature evidence, which, when considered together, strongly contradicts the natural origin theory,” said the paper, which is yet to be peer-reviewed.

The natural origin theory was first reported by Nature Medicine in a paper on March 17, in which researchers said the virus had a 96% resemblance with a coronavirus found in bats, called the RaTG13.

Yan and her colleagues contend that there are growing doubts over the natural existence of this bat coronavirus, and that the Sars-Cov2 instead has strong overlaps with two other bat coronaviruses: the ZC45 and ZXC211.

“The evidence shows that SARS-CoV2 should be a laboratory product created by using bat coronaviruses ZC45 and/or ZXC21 as a template and/or backbone,” the report said.

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