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Scientists discover vital information for coronavirus COVID-19 origin

Scientists have found a relative of SARS-CoV-2 in bats, which suggests that the coronavirus evolved naturally.

Published Tue, May 12 2020 6:31 AM CDT   |   Updated Mon, Oct 19 2020 8:19 PM CDT

The origin of COVID-19 still hasn't been confirmed, but most of the official evidence is pointing towards the virus evolving naturally over time.

Scientists discover vital information for coronavirus COVID-19 origin 15 |

That hasn't stopped people from debating the subject, as some large amounts of people are claiming it has been genetically engineered. Most researchers consider bats to the natural host for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 infection, but its yet to be officially confirmed and agreed upon.

But now, scientists have found another coronavirus in bats that's a close relative to SARS-CoV-2's genome in some regions. More specifically, from, the new virus has "insertions of amino acids at the junction of the S1 and S2 subunits of the virus's spike protein in a manner similar to SAR-CoV-2". The scientists don't believe that the newly identified coronavirus RmYN02 is a direct precursor of SARS-CoV-2, but what they did discover proves that some parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be developed naturally throughout the evolution of a coronavirus.

Senior author Weifeng Shi, director and professor at the Institute of Pathogen Biology at Shandong First Medical University in China, said, "Since the discovery of SARS-CoV-2 there have been a number of unfounded suggestions that the virus has a laboratory origin. In particular, it has been proposed the S1/S2 insertion is highly unusual and perhaps indicative of laboratory manipulation. Our paper shows very clearly that these events occur naturally in wildlife. This provides strong evidence against SARS-CoV-2 being a laboratory escape."

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