A scientific study which found COVID-19 may have been a “cell-culture” uniquely adapted for transmission to humans (more so than any other animal – including bats), is gaining steam.
The paper, currently under peer review, comes from Flinders University Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, who has spent over two decades developing vaccines against influenza, Ebola, and animal Sars. He says his findings allow for the possibility that COVID-19 leaked from a laboratory, according to Sky News.
“The two possibilities which I think are both still open is that it was a chance transmission of a virus from an as yet unidentified animal to human. The other possibility is that it was an accidental release of the virus from a laboratory,” said Petrovsky, adding “Certainly we can’t exclude the possibility that this came from a laboratory experiment rather than from an animal. They are both open possibilities.”
Professor Petrovsky, who is the Chairman and Research Director of Vaxine Pty Ltd, said COVID-19 has genetic elements similar to bat coronaviruses as well as other coronaviruses.
The way coronavirus enters human cells is by binding to a protein on the surface of lung-cells called ACE2. The study showed the virus bound more tightly to human-ACE2 than to any of the other animals they tested.
“It was like it was designed to infect humans,” he said.
“One of the possibilities is that an animal host was infected by two coronaviruses at the same time and COVID-19 is the progeny of that interaction between the two viruses. –Sky News
“The same process can happen in a petri-dish,” added Petrovsky. “If you have cells in culture and you have human cells in that culture which the viruses are infecting, then if there are two viruses in that dish, they can swap genetic information and you can accidentally or deliberately create a whole third new virus out of that system.”
“In other words COVID-19 could have been created from that recombination event in an animal host or it could have occurred in a cell-culture experiment.”