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A debate has emerged over whether some of the genetic material that’s been found in the COVID-19 coronavirus proves that the virus was created in a laboratory and didn’t form “naturally.”
The debate revolves around findings from a study published on Monday by Frontiers Media, a controversial open-source publisher of studies that’s been accused of publishing content without proper oversight.
Despite Frontiers’ somewhat shoddy track record, it does have its supporters.
After renowned academic librarian Jeffrey Beall added the journal to his “blacklist” of “questionable publishers” in 2015, critics slammed him, “maintaining that the open-access publisher is legitimate and reputable and does offer proper peer review,” as reported at the time by Nature magazine.
Frontiers being added to Beall’s list reveals the big weakness of Beall’s list: It’s not based on solid data, but on Beall’s intuition.
— Daniël Lakens (@lakens) October 19, 2015
Dovetailing back to the present, the study published Monday was conducted by a slew of researchers from across the world.
The study found that present within COVID is a nucleotide sequence that’s the “reverse complement” of a nucleotide sequence patented by Moderna six years ago.
“[A] 19 nucleotide portion of the SARS.Cov2 genome encompassing the furing cleavage site is a 100% complementary match to a codon-optimized proprietary sequence that is the reverse complement of the human mutS homolog (MSH3),” the study reads.
The key word there is MSH3. Confused? You’re not alone.
According to an extensive explanation from the Daily Mail, COVID is comprised of 30,000 letters of genetic code. These are known as nucleotides.
The Daily Mail notes that COVID-19’s nucleotide sequence shares “19 specific letters” with a man-made nucleotide sequence patented by Moderna in February of 2016 “as part of its cancer research division.”
This patented sequence “is part of a gene called MSH3 that is known to affect how damaged cells repair themselves in the body.”
“Twelve of the shared letters make up the structure of Covid’s furin cleavage site, with the rest being a match with nucleotides on a nearby part of the genome,” the Daily Mail notes.
This, of course, doesn’t necessarily prove anything.
“Writing in the paper, led by Dr Balamurali Ambati, from the University of Oregon, the researchers said the matching code may have originally been introduced to the Covid genome through infected human cells expressing the MSH3 gene,” according to the Daily Mail.
But the researchers also admitted that this finding “is highly unusual” and “requires further investigations.”
The sequence “may occur randomly but other possibilities must be considered,” they wrote.
It’s this specific line that’s re-triggered the longtime debate over COVID-19’s origins. The Daily Mail for its part cites sources on both sides of the debate, such as Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at Warwick University.
“We’re talking about a very, very, very small piece made up of 19 nucleotides. So it doesn’t mean very much, to be frank. If you do these types of searches, you can always find matches,” Young told the Daily Mail in defense of the position that this finding doesn’t change anything.
“Sometimes these things happen fortuitously; sometimes it’s the result of convergent evolution. It’s a quirky observation, but I wouldn’t call it a smoking gun because it’s too small. It doesn’t get us any further with the debate about whether COVID was engineered.”
Those who aren’t as skeptical of the lab-leak theory find the study to be “genuinely creepy,” as one Twitter user put it:
VERY INTERESTING & GENUINELY CREEPY:
It appears that a genetic insert from a 2018 Moderna onoclogy patent that suppresses DNA repair and causes cancers somehow ended up in the lab-created Spike Protein that has being injected into millions of people.https://t.co/E8IlbvJhhX
— TheBlogMire (@theblogmire) February 23, 2022
The debate has been raging since the early days of the pandemic, when the establishment reflexively dismissed the very idea that COVID-19 could have been created in a lab instead of forming naturally.
But as more and more evidence emerged, the consensus switched somewhat. While the prominent position is still that the virus formed naturally, a growing number of unexpected voices have acknowledged that it’s possible — and perhaps even likely — that it was made in a laboratory and then accidentally leaked to the public:
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 15, 2021
Indeed, just this week The Telegraph reported that the lab leak theory is considered by the U.K. government to “the most likely origin” of COVID-19.
“There is mounting suspicion that Covid-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology which had been collecting and experimenting on dangerous bat coronaviruses in the years before the virus first emerged in the city,” according to the British outlet.
“The Government has asked for evidence before drafting a new biosecurity strategy, which will deal with ‘accidental release and dual-use research of concern, where life science research is capable of being misapplied to do harm.'”
While the U.K. originally boasted far stricter COVID policies than the U.S., in recent weeks it’s pulled back drastically, even as the United States remained in policies and mandates that critics say are at this point completely unnecessary.
It may very well be that the U.K. is also ahead of the U.S. when it comes to determing COVID’s true origin …
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