Controversial new research suggests SARS-CoV-2 bears signs of genetic engineering | The Economist
“Any conclusion that sars–cov-2 was engineered will be hotly contested. China denies the virus came from a Chinese lab, and has asked for investigations into whether it may have originated in America. Dr Washburne and his colleagues say their predictions are testable. If a progenitor genome to sars–cov-2 is found in the wild with restriction sites that are the same, or intermediate, it would raise the chances that this pattern evolved by chance.”
“Any widely supported conclusion that the virus was genetically engineered would have profound ramifications, both political and scientific. It would put in a new light the behaviour of the Chinese government in the early days of the outbreak, particularly its reluctance to share epidemiological data from those days. It would also raise questions about what was known, when, and by whom about the presumably accidental escape of an engineered virus. For now, this is a first draft of science, and needs to be treated as such. But the scrutineers are already at work.”
Editor’s note: The pre-print “Endonuclease fingerprint indicates a synthetic origin of sars–cov-2” by Bruttel, Washburne and VanDongen, can be found at bioRxiv.