The coronavirus epidemic originated through natural processes, not a product of genetic engineering, scientists have said.
Concise News understands that the researchers, in a paper titled, ‘The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2’, analysed public genome sequence data from SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses.
“By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes,” a corresponding author of the paper, Dr Kristian Andersen, said, according to sciencedaily.com.
The researchers said that coronaviruses were a large family of viruses that could cause illnesses ranging widely in severity.
“The first known severe illness caused by a coronavirus emerged with the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome epidemic in China. A second outbreak of severe illness began in 2012 in Saudi Arabia with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome,” they wrote.
They also said, “More specifically, we focused on two important features of the spike protein; the receptor-binding domain, a kind of grappling hook that grips onto host cells, and the cleavage site, a molecular can opener that allows the virus to crack open and enter host cells.
“We found that the receptor-binding domain portion of the SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins had evolved to effectively target a molecular feature on the outside of human cells called ACE2, a receptor involved in regulating blood pressure. The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein was so effective at binding the human cells.”
More than 700,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in over 190 countries and territories worldwide.
Over 37,000 people have died as a result of the virus and more than 160,000 persons have recovered, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins University.
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