Researchers thought it was possible

The lab thesis has often been ridiculed: But some experts felt that Sars-CoV-2 could have arisen in a lab to be entirely possible. It’s now published Emails.

“Our analyzes clearly show that Sars-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or an intentionally manipulated virus” – this sentence comes from a treatise on the origin of the coronavirus which was published in March 2020 in the magazine scientific “Nature Medicine”. The essay was authored by no less than five authors – all leading figures in genetics, infections and evolutionary biology.

Based on their findings, other theories that the coronavirus originated in a laboratory in the Wuhan region of China and was then accidentally transported around the world have long been ridiculed. It was not until May 2021 that a group of researchers asked in an article in “Science” magazine that the possibility of a laboratory accident be seriously considered.

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The emails now published show: Leading scientists, including the authors of the “Medicine of Nature” treatise, did so as early as the spring of 2020.

Conference call with many experts

The emails contain excerpts from a conference call held by the experts. Participants included renowned American immunologist Anthony Fauci, British infectious disease specialist Jeremy Farrar, director of the US National Institutes of Health Francis Collins and Sars receptor discoverer Mike Farzan. There too: the German virologist of Charité Christian Drosten.

The scientists’ discussion focused on the so-called “furin cleavage site”. This is an amino acid sequence that allows the coronavirus to enter human cells. This point in the virus spike protein is responsible for making Corona so contagious and dangerous to humans.

Probable change in the virus in the laboratory

During the conference, Farzan was particularly bothered by the fact that the “furin cleavage site” is not present in any close relative of Sars-CoV-2. In order for an already existing related virus to develop the “furin cleavage site”, it must develop twelve successive nucleic acids in the genome, which in turn encode the four amino acids of the “furin cleavage site”. Farzan struggled, according to the emails, to explain how such a change in the virus could have happened outside of a lab under natural circumstances. In his opinion, there are possible scenarios, but all of them are very unlikely.

Farzan therefore felt that another explanation was more likely: He suspected that by looking for coronaviruses in the laboratory, these had been repeatedly contacted with human cells and could have inadvertently developed the cleavage site. He even measured the probability of such a scenario in the development of Sars-CoV-2 at 60 to 70%.

“Not a plausible scenario” for a natural change

Molecular biologist Robert Garry also argued the same on the conference call. He said he compared the “new” coronavirus with another coronavirus found in bats that was sequenced at the Wuhan lab. He found that viruses have almost identical amino acids except for the twelve nucleic acids which are needed for the “furin cleavage site”.

According to the emails, he couldn’t imagine “a plausible scenario” where a virus existing in nature would be spread by exactly twelve nucleic acids at the same time without changing elsewhere. “I just can’t figure out how to do this in the wild,” Garry reportedly said.

Allegations against Fauci

In view of these statements, the question arises as to why, just one month after the conference call, an article was published in which the origin of the coronavirus was traced to natural causes and not to a laboratory scenario. After all, the work on the paper began just days after the conference call.

Anthony Fauci: The famous American immunologist is accused of having hidden information on the origin of the coronavirus. (Source: Greg Nash / imago images)

Some Republican politicians are even using email to build accusations against Anthony Fauci of withholding important information about the virus and therefore how to fight it. They want the immunologist to make an affidavit, explaining what he knew about the origin of the virus in the lab and whether he passed the information on to the White House.

Labor theory was not a consensus

Part of the whole truth of the story, however, is that the position presented by Farzan and Garry was by no means a consensus on the conference call. Other scientists, including Christian Drosten, have arguably argued vehemently that the virus could well have developed naturally. Your arguments are blacked out in emails. Some of them can be found in Farrar’s book. Among other things, they allegedly argued that “insertions” in nature could be observed over and over again. In his opinion, the twelve mutations at the “furin cleavage site” may well have emerged from an unpredictable course.

Christian Drosten: The German virologist estimated that the coronavirus could well have developed naturally.  (Source: imago images / C. Hardt)Christian Drosten: The German virologist estimated that the coronavirus could well have developed naturally. (Source: C. Hardt / imago images)

In addition, a month passed between the conference and the final publication of the article. Farrar describes this month in his book as a month full of “important new information, endless analysis, intense discussion and many sleepless nights.” It is not uncommon for scientists to change their minds through analysis and discussion, but rather generally desired and part of the process of scientific discovery.

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