The global scientific establishment still has no idea or is too fearful to admit from where the COVID-19 virus originated.
The problem is both scientific and political.
The COVID-19 virus has a number of unusual structural features that cannot be easily explained as products of a normal evolutionary process.
Although the scientific “consensus” claims that the COVID-19 virus originated in bats, parts of its viral genome contain elements that appear to originate from pangolin (scaly anteater) coronaviruses, yet pangolins have been excluded as a natural intermediate host prior to human infection.
In addition, the COVID-19 virus contains a Furin polybasic cleavage site with an amino acid sequence of proline-arginine-arginine-alanine or “PRRA” that facilitates membrane fusion between the virus and the human cell and is a structure known to increase infectivity and pathogenicity.
That PRRA amino acid sequence is not found in any related bat coronavirus and the genomic nucleotide combination that codes for it, the repeat cytosine-guanine-guanine or CGG-CGG, is extremely rare.
The fact is that the existence of the COVID-19 virus is far easier to explain as the product of laboratory experiments than as a naturally-occurring phenomenon.
So, why is there any uncertainty?
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese Communist Party, supported by some Western scientists and a politically-motivated media, have desperately tried to convince the world that COVID-19 virus originated in bats and underwent natural evolutionary changes, which allowed it to infect humans.
Undoubtedly, such subterfuge is meant to protect certain vested interests that would be put at risk if it became known that the COVID-19 virus originated in a laboratory.
Those consequences include devastating political and economic sanctions against China, a reduction in global corporate and private investment in China and a negative effect on scientific collaboration and the funding of major Western research laboratories.
The entire history of coronavirus research, however, is punctuated by the ubiquitous use of genetic engineering to produce new viral combinations or inserting amino acid sequences that affect infectivity or pathogenicity.
At present, there is general scientific agreement that the COVID-19 virus arose through the combination of components from two or more coronaviruses, that is, through “recombination,” rather than a single coronavirus slowly evolving over time by point mutations in its genome.
The scientific article “Using the nucleocapsid protein to investigate the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 and closely related bat and pangolin coronaviruses” uses one part of the COVID-19 viral genome, the nucleocapsid or N-protein, to trace its origin and the possible contributions of bat and pangolin coronavirus in combination to create the COVID-19 virus.
The author compared the sequences of the COVID-19 virus to those of the pangolin coronavirus MP789 and the bat coronaviruses RaTG13, ZC45 and ZXC21.
He concludes that there is a close ancestral relationship between the COVID-19 virus and those bat and pangolin coronaviruses, particularly, RaTG13 and MP789.
That is, the COVID-19 virus could have arisen by either natural or laboratory-conducted recombination.
It is important to note that, unlike the COVID-19 virus, MP789, RaTG13, ZC45 and ZXC21 are not live viruses, but sequence reconstructions primarily of harvested viral fragments.
At the present time, China and the scientific establishment claim that the bat coronavirus RaTG13 is a naturally-occurring virus and the closest relative to the COVID-19 virus.
In contrast, Chinese scientist and whistleblower, Dr. Li-Meng Yan, argues that the COVID-19 virus was created in the laboratory by the genetic manipulation of ZC45 and/or ZXC21.
They may both be right.
RaTG13 may be a recombination of bat and pangolin coronaviruses, one laboratory intermediate on the way to the artificial creation of the COVID-19 virus, the purpose for which remains obscure.
This column was originally published at WION
Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is retired from an international career in business and medical research with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. He is a member of the Citizens Commission on National Security. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.