Study Confirms COVID-19 Has Natural Origins, Could Still Be Circulating in Animals and Might Jump into Humans Once Again

4Evidence for natural evolution

In SARS-CoV-2, it was found that the RBD spike proteins had gradually evolved to target ACE2 which is a molecular feature found on surface of human cells, it is also a receptor that helps regulate blood pressure. The SARS CoV2 spike protein efficiently bound itself to human cells through ACE2. It was because of this ability that helped scientists confirmed that SARS-CoV-2 was a result of natural selection and not genetic engineering.

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5Features of the new coronavirus prove it was not genetically engineered as rumors have it

The data on the virus’ backbone or its molecular structure helped scientist with evidence for the conclusion of natural selection. If someone makes the virus in a lab, they would have to use material from the backbone of a virus that they know can cause sickness. But analysing the backbone of SARS-CoV-2 was very different from the viruses known earlier which means it could not have been engineered from any of them. Instead, SARS-CoV-2 resembled viruses found in bats and pangolins.

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Says Andersen “These two features of the virus, the mutations in the RBD portion of the spike protein and its distinct backbone, rules out laboratory manipulation as a potential origin for SARS-CoV-2.”

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6Extremely important findings

As reported in Scripps, Josie Golding who is the Ph.D. epidemics at UK Wellcome Trust said that the findings by Andersen were extremely important in providing evidence in wake of the rumors circulating as to the origins of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2. She says “

“They conclude that the virus is the product of natural evolution ending any speculation about deliberate genetic engineering.”

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7Possible origins of the virus: two scenarios

So now the big question remains that if the present virus was not engineered in a lab, where did it originate. Based on the results of the analysis of the genome sequence, Andersen and colleagues concluded two scenarios.

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In one scenario, they felt that the virus evolved through natural selection where it first existed in a non-human or animal and then latched onto humans. This is the same way earlier coronavirus outbreaks emerged like SARS from civets and MERS from Camels. The new research feels that it is bats responsible for SARS-CoV-2 who are the most likely reservoirs for the virus simply because SARS-CoV-2 is very similar to a bat virus.

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