In the wake of speculations that deliberate genetic engineering led to creation of coronavirus, scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have claimed that the COVID-19 is a natural-origin pandemic is not a lab-created one.
The Novel Cornonavirus surfaced in Wuhan, China last year from where it spread to other countries. In a paper published in Nature Medicine says the analysis of public genome sequence data from SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses found no evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise engineered. “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, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research and corresponding author on the paper.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is the first known coronavirus epidemic emerged in China in 2003. A second outbreak of severe illness began in 2012 in Saudi Arabia with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). On December 31 last year, Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization of an outbreak of a novel strain of coronavirus causing severe illness, which was subsequently named SARS-CoV-2.
The coronavirus has now spread to more than 150 countries, infecting more than 184,000 and killing over 7,500 people. Shortly after the epidemic began, Chinese scientists sequenced the genome of SARS-CoV-2 and made the data available to researchers worldwide.