The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), some Western scientists sympathetic to China and the obsequious media have expended enormous efforts to convince the public that the COVID-19 pandemic is a naturally-occurring outbreak of disease.

Included in that effort are restrictions imposed by the Chinese government on academic research related to the origins of COVID-19, in what is likely part of a wider attempt to control the narrative surrounding the origin of the pandemic.

There are now rumours swirling within the global scientific community that Western professional journals are submitting to pressure from Beijing and refusing to publish data that do not conform to the naturally-occurring interpretation of the origin of COVID-19.

The narrative promoted by the CCP is that COVID-19, while circulating in a bat population, mutated, acquiring the ability to infect humans, which was then transmitted to people either visiting or working in the Wuhan Seafood Market.

First of all, it was already known by the end of January 2020, that the initial patients hospitalised between December 1-10, 2019 had not visited the market and bats were not sold there.

Despite the extraordinary propaganda campaign mounted by the Chinese government and its sycophants in the West, the origin of COVID-19 remains unknown and all of the structurally close bat coronaviruses so far identified to explain its origin have only raised more doubts.

In the February 3, 2020 Nature article, scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, led by Zheng-Li Shi, claimed that the coronavirus RaTG13, isolated from bats in Yunnan Province, China, showed a 96.2% sequence identity with COVID-19 and, therefore, “RaTG13 is the closest relative” of COVID-19 and forms a distinct lineage from other coronaviruses.

A month later on March 17, 2020, the article “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” widely-cited by scientists and the media, supported the conclusion that RaTG13 is CoVid-19’s closest relative, which likely “jumped” from animals to humans in the Wuhan Seafood Market.

It was later revealed that RaTG13 only existed on paper and was actually a duplicate of another bat coronavirus, BtCoV/4991, about which very little experimental data have been published.

Nevertheless, if we use the RaTG13 sequence, which has provided the basis of China’s naturally-occurring theory for the origin of COVID-19, holes begin to appear in its argument.

COVID-19’s receptor binding domain, which allows the attachment of the virus to a human cell, is structurally closer in its amino acid sequence to that of pangolins (scaly anteaters) than to bat RaTG13.

COVID-19

N S N N L D S K V G G N Y N Y L Y R L F R K S N L K P F E R D I S T E I Y Q A G S T P C
N G V E G F N C Y F P L Q S Y G F Q P T N G V G Y Q P Y

Pangolin

N S N N L D S K V G G N Y N Y L Y R L F R K S N L K P F E R D I S T E I Y Q A G S T P C
N G V E G F N C Y F P L Q S Y G F H P T N G V G Y Q P Y

RaTG13

N S K H I D A K E G G N F N Y L Y R L F R K A N L K P F E R D I S T E I Y Q A G S K P C
N G Q T G L N C Y Y P L Y R Y G F Y P T D G V G H Q P Y

As you can see, the pangolin sequence differs from COVID-19 by only one amino acid, while RaTG13 differs in seventeen positions.

Within the receptor-binding domain there are fourteen specific amino acids that were previously shown to be critical for coronaviruses to bind to the angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 receptor that initiates the COVID-19 infection in humans.

At least two pangolin species match those critical COVID-19 amino acids in thirteen out of fourteen positions, whereas RaTG13 matches only seven out of fourteen and other bat coronaviruses do so to an even lesser extent.

Chinese scientists suggest that the pangolin receptor binding domain was “donated” to COVID-19, presumably through some type of recombinant event occurring between a bat coronavirus and a pangolin coronavirus inside a pangolin host.

Their naturally-occurring explanation for the presence of a pangolin-like receptor binding domain is highly speculative and no evidence exists to support such a contention.

A far more likely scenario is that the native receptor binding domain within a bat coronavirus “backbone” was artificially replaced with one from a pangolin strain.

After that, came the insertion of the furin polybasic cleavage site, found in COVID-19 and none of the close bat coronaviruses relatives yet identified and a distinctive feature is widely known for its ability to enhance pathogenicity and transmissibility in coronaviruses.

There is additional information now being discussed on virology blogs indicating that COVID-19 is not naturally-occurring because its differential ratio of synonymous to non-synonymous substitution is vastly different compared to that which occurs in nature among bat populations as well as natural factors that would select against the presence of a furin polybasic cleavage site.

China’s ongoing propaganda campaign and its associated Western censorship will not stop honest scientific inquiry from discovering the true origin of COVID-19.

This column was originally published at WION.

The views expressed in CCNS member articles are not necessarily the views or positions of the entire CCNS. They are the views of the authors, who are members of the CCNS.

© 2020. All rights reserved.

© 2020. All rights reserved.