Biophysicist: New coronavirus could have emerged spontaneously in a laboratory

27.03.2020, Moscow.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus was hardly designed for military purposes, but it could have originated as the result of irresponsible experimentation in closed laboratories, said Yuriy Nechiporenko, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Senior Researcher at the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology of Russian Academy of Sciences (EIMB) in an interview with a Rossa Primavera News Agency correspondent on March 25.

Nechiporenko said that theoretically “such a virus can be made in a test tube,” but such an experiment is “too dangerous” to be sanctioned by the powers that be. At the same time, the scientist is concerned that a co-author of the paper in the journal Nature, dedicated to the chimeric bat viruses, comes from Wuhan, from where the virus began its march across the planet. However, it could also be a “simple coincidence”, the expert believes.

The scientist also stressed that in his opinion “the idea of a targeted biological war against people of different races” is absolutely groundless. At the same time, it is possible that the virus could have appeared as the result of random experimentation in one of the many laboratories “that are engaged either in protecting against biological weapons or, on the contrary, in developing them.”

There is no consensus among experts whether the new coronavirus was created by genetic engineering or spontaneously evolved in nature from its predecessor SARS-CoV (the pathogen of SARS in 2002-2003). Based on an article in the journal Nature Medicine from 2015, biological weapons expert Igor Nikulin considered the appearance of SARS-CoV-2 an act of sabotage on the part of the United States.

In the work mentioned by Nikulin, one point of debate was whether the current strains of coronaviruses are able to be transmitted from animals to humans. The researchers created a chimeric viral construct based on SARS-CoV, where they embedded the surface antigen of the SARS-like coronavirus SHC014-CoV, that circulated in Chinese populations of horseshoe bats in those years. It follows from the text of the article that such a modified virus is potentially dangerous for people.

Others, including outside experts, were more cautious about the origin of SARS-CoV-2. For example, on March 21, 2020, political scientist Sergey Kurginyan appealed to the virology community to find out whether the coronavirus could have originated as a result of genetic engineering.

Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency

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