Two unique features of SARS-CoV-2 are convincing a growing number of scientists that it was man-made, and not the result of natural evolution, according to the Daily Telegraph.
First, the virus binds more strongly to human ACE2 enzymes than any other species, including bats.
Second, SARS-CoV-2 has a “furin cleavage site” missing in its closes bat-coronavirus relative, RaTG-13, which makes it significantly more infectious – a finding we reported in late February.
According to Israeli geneticist, Dr. Ronen Shemesh, the Furin site is the most unusual finding.
“I believe that the most important issue about the differences between ALL coronavirus types is the insertion of a Furin protease cleavage site at the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2,” he said. “Such an insertion is very rare in evolution, the addition of such 4 Amino acids alone in the course of only 20 years is very unlikely.”
Shamesh, who is working on a treatment for COVID-19, believes the novel coronavirus was most likely created in a lab, and did not evolve in nature.
“There are many reasons to believe that the COVID-19 generating SARS-CoV-2 was generated in a lab. Most probably by methods of genetic engineering,” he said, adding “I believe that this is the only way an insertion like the FURIN protease cleavage site could have been introduced directly at the right place and become effective.“
Dr Shemesh, who has a PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and over 21 years of experience in the field of drug discovery and development, said it is even “more unlikely” that this insertion happened in exactly the right place of the cleavage site of the spike protein – which is where it would need to occur to make the virus more infectious. –Daily Telegraph
“What makes it even more suspicious is that fact that this insertion not only occurred on the right place and in the right time, but also turned the cleavage site from an Serine protease cleavage site to a FURIN cleavage site,” he added.
In January, a team of Indian scientists wrote in a now-retracted paper that the coronavirus may have been genetically engineered to incorporate parts of the HIV genome,