Genetics news & views from students enrolled in BIOL 2110 at Stockton University.
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
No, the coronavirus wasn't made in a lab. A genetic analysis shows it's from nature.
As the pandemic of COVID-19 shocked the world, many global misinformation theories were created. Many of these conspiracies behaved similarly as viruses by spreading rapidly online just like COVID did offline. One of these conspiracies was the COVID-19 was deliberately created in a laboratory. A new study suggested that COVID-19 was caused by a natural behavior and not made in a lab. A group of researchers from Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla California decided to analyze further the situation after the genetic makeup was revealed. It was clear to them right away that the virus wasn't human-made as SARS-CoV-2 was not derived from any previously used virus backbone, which you would need in order to engineer new viruses. Although some stretches of the virus genetic material were similar to HIV, this similarity is something that stems from those viruses sharing a common ancestor as evolution suggest. Another evidence found suggested that SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses are commonly found in nature including in animals such as bats and pangolins showing how easy they swap genes. An evidence to this is the amino acid of ACE2, which is found in COVID-19 as well as pangolins and causes the tight binding spike. This spike binding characteristic allows COVID-19 to stick to human cells easily and become more contagious. In conclusion, the evidence presented suggest that COVID-19 was most likely naturally occurring and not man made. Link to article: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/coronavirus-covid-19-not-human-made-lab-genetic-analysis-nature