The new coronavirus has a natural origin and was not created in the laboratory, said a team of Chinese scientists from the First Medical University of Shandong, Xinhua agency reported May 15.
The researchers say they have strong evidence. They made the discovery by analyzing the relatively close strain of the virus RmYN02, which was found in bats and has a high degree of identity with the new coronavirus in the genome area 1ab.
The researchers found that the strain, similar to the new coronavirus, was characterized by “inserting” many amino acids in the region connecting the sequences of S1 and S2 protein spike virus. This is strong evidence that such “insertions” can occur naturally during coronavirus evolution.
“The significance of this discovery is that it clarifies some of the origins of the coronavirus,” said Shi Weifeng, professor at Shandong First Medical University and team leader.
According to Shea, the discovery, combined with a previous study of a strain of coronavirus derived from pangoline, shows that there are two genetic characteristics of the new coronavirus in nature, which is strong evidence that the new coronavirus was not created in the laboratory.
An article on research conducted jointly by the University and institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences was published in Current Biology.