• Fri. Oct 22nd, 2021

This element of Sars-CoV-2 which suggests to researchers that the virus came from a laboratory – Sputnik France

Byeditorial

Oct 3, 2021

https://fr.sputniknews.com/20211002/cet-element-du-sars-cov-2-qui-laisse-penser-a-des-chercheurs-que-le-virus-est-issu-dun-laboratoire- 1051956626.html

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Anastassia Verbitskaya

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Anastassia Verbitskaya

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Sputnik France

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Sputnik France

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science, virus, covid-19, sras-cov virus

Is the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic natural or human? An element of Sars-CoV-2 called the “furin cleavage site” is leading some researchers to suspect a laboratory accident. Discussions have continued for a year, but no hypothesis can yet be credited.

Different hypotheses on the origin of the Sars-CoV-2 virus have been put forward by researchers since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The recent identification by specialists from the Institut Pasteur of viruses very similar in Laos has put forward the thesis of animal transmission. But many questions still have no answer.

As, for example, that posed by a piece of the Sars-CoV-2 genome, called the “furin cleavage site”, an element which makes it capable of contaminating human cells. “Concretely, it will allow the cleavage of the Spike protein and give it the perfect position to position itself on a human cell”, Étienne Decroly, virologist at the University of Aix-Marseille, told Figaro.

Several viruses have this element, but none of the Sars-CoV-2 family with this characteristic has yet been identified, he says. The cousin viruses of Sars-Cov-2 discovered in Laotian bats have a very similar Spike protein without, however, the cleavage site. We must now understand how the bat viruses found in this country appeared in Wuhan, a city located 2,000 km away, as Marc Eloit, head of the Discovery of pathogens laboratory at the Institute, observed with AFP. Pastor.

A lab leak?

Many researchers believe that a laboratory accident could well have caused the appearance of Covid-19. For example, around twenty high-level scientists published in the journal Science, in May 2021, a call to better examine this hypothesis.
About thirty specialists, including several French, gathered within the Drastic group (Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating Covid-19), sent, on April 30, an open letter to the WHO and its director general, claiming the acceleration of research, in particular on the trail of a leak. Hervé Fleury, professor of virology at the CNRS and at the University of Bordeaux and signatory of the letter, does not doubt that the virus comes from a Chinese laboratory. The pangolin or no other host is involved, he told Sputnik.

In its report on the origin of the virus published on March 29, the WHO did not completely exclude the experimental track, but favored the hypothesis of the host animal, even claiming that the laboratory accident was a scenario “extremely unlikely”.

American funding?

The hypothesis of a leak was further reinforced when a group of renowned scientists, affiliated with The Lancet journal and supposed to determine the origins of Covid-19, was dissolved at the end of September after more than a year of work. Professor Jeffrey Sachs, leader of this group, mentioned a potential conflict of interest.
Because the American NGO EcoHealth Alliance, led by the virologist Peter Daszak, would have received, between 2014 and 2019, government funds to study the coronavirus transmitted by bats. These experiments had taken place at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), suspected by some to be the place from which the Covid-19 would have emerged.
Investigation published at the end of September by the Drastic group reveals that the EcoHealth Alliance, together with the WIV, had requested in 2018 the funding of gain-of-function experiments aimed at acquiring the furin site for Sars-CoV-1 viruses. Full funding was ultimately denied, but the door was left open for partial cash inflow, according to the report. However, “the fact that American funding has been refused does not mean that these experiments have not been carried out,” Jacques van Helden, bioinformatician at the University of Aix-Marseille, told Figaro.

None of the different hypotheses can be accredited for the moment. The cleavage site was thus able to appear naturally. Jean-Claude Manuguerra, head of the biological emergency response unit at the Institut Pasteur, gave Le Figaro an example dating from the 1990s, when a “A violent influenza A (H5N2) epizootic struck poultry in Mexico. Sequencing of the virus showed that when it arrived, in October 1993, it was minimally pathogenic and did not have a furin cleavage site. January 1995, he had become very dangerous and had acquired this site through natural selection. “

One thought on “This element of Sars-CoV-2 which suggests to researchers that the virus came from a laboratory – Sputnik France”
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