Ever since the Coronavirus hit the world one claim that has refused to die is that the virus was man-made. Now when the Chinese virologist Li-Meng Yan published her report supporting the same claim, western experts are weighing in on Chinese 'whistleblower,' with many dismissing it as more of a theoretical piece that offers no new evidence and includes even flawed research.
Dr. Gary Whittaker, a professor of virology at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said that one of the major arguments in the newly published paper is that the SARS-CoV-2 is so unique that "it can't have been generated naturally, the only explanation is that it's man-made. I would push back on that."
Another virologist at Rutgers University, Jason Kaelber, who is an assistant research professor at the Institute for Quantitative Biomedicine said that "all the weird things about Sars-Cov-2 are completely consistent with the sort of weirdness that happens in wild viruses all the time." Kaelber also noted, "one reason why I haven't gone looking for explanations of artificial origins is that we knew something like this was going to happen sooner or later."
Coronavirus Origin Conspiracy
As per Kaelber, in Yan's report, she explained about an apparent "restriction site" on the virus's genome, and dismissed it as just "seeing patterns where no patterns exist." He told the New York Post that the restriction sites that she finds are commonly occurring elsewhere in Sars-Cov-2 related viruses and "if you were to engineer in restriction sites to manipulate the spike gene, I certainly wouldn't do it like that, there are much better ways to do that."
As per Whittaker, the damages novel Coronavirus causes in the body could raise questions about its origin, but similar Coronavirus found in cats also does the same amount of damage. He said that "if you look at the disease outcomes in humans and in cats" there is actually a lot of similarities.
According to him the cat Coronavirus was naturally acquired. "We don't know how or why but it was absolutely natural... why would anyone design a virus to kill a bunch of cats? [And] if this can happen in cats in alphacoronavirus, then it can happen with humans in betacoronavirus."
The Critics of Yan's Paper
As per recent reports, a team of international scientists has decided to launch an investigation to find out whether novel Coronavirus leaked from the lab. After Yan published her paper, many critics noted that the scientific report was put out by the Rule of Law Society & Rule of Law Foundation, a group founded by Steve Bannon—the former advisor to the US President Donald Trump—and Chinese dissident and fugitive billionaire Guo Wengui.
Yan and her colleague's connection to this group have raised questions about the political motivation behind the paper's release and how this research was funded.
Even though Whittaker does lean towards the theory that SARS-CoV-2 occurred naturally, he said it is too early to rule out the potential of it being a lab-made virus. Along with him, an endocrinologist from Australia's Flinders University Dr. Nikolai Petrovsky said that the scientific report is an attack against an article, published in Nature in March 2020, that claims that there is no way the virus can be engineered.
Petrovsky said that all the tools were there in the lab and they had all the information to create the virus, "she's [Yan] not proving it was created, she's proving it was possible based on what was available at that time." He also called Nature's article "horribly flawed" and it was "political."
However, one of the authors on the Nature article, Dr. Ian Lipkin a virologist from Columbia University, told The New York Post that they have explored the possibility of novel Coronavirus being man-made and "there's really nothing else to it." According to him, this is just shifting focus away from where it needs to be, "which is trying to identify how this emerged in nature and what we can do to ensure it never happens again."