June 8: This article has been significantly updated to reflect criticism of the published study, as well as the general scientific consensus on Covid-19. It also clarifies Sørensen’s financial interest in the development of the Biovacc-19 coronavirus vaccine. This context did not appear in the original message
New allegations that the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was designed have been rejected by scientific and intelligence experts.
The authors of an Anglo-Norwegian vaccine study – accepted by the Biophysical quarterly review– Claim that the coronavirus advanced protein contains sequences that appear to be artificially inserted.
In their article, Norwegian scientist Birger Sørensen and British oncologist Angus Dalgleish claim to have identified “inserted sections placed on the surface of the tip of SARS-CoV-2” that explain how the virus interacts with cells in the human body. Virologists, however, note that similar sections appear naturally in other viruses.
Accidental release claims disputed
Sir Richard Dearlove, who chaired MI6 from 1999 to 2004, told the The telegraph of the day that research by Sørensen and Dalgleish shows that the pandemic may have started at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. He added that he believed it was unlikely that he was deliberately released, but that China had made a clear attempt to conceal the release.
However, British MI5 intelligence sources dismissed the idea as “rumor and conspiracy”, according to the Times of london. Dearlove was previously criticized in the Chilcot investigation into the Iraq war for promoting “false information”.
Since the coronavirus moved to the United States, senior officials in the Trump administration have amplified rumors that the virus has emerged from a virology laboratory in Wuhan. However, public health researchers have traced the first recorded cases of the virus at a city animal market.
The management of the Wuhan Institute of Virology previously stated on Chinese state television that such claims were “total fabrication” and that the laboratory had not encountered SARS-CoV-2 until samples of patients with unidentified pneumonia-like disease were referred to them in December.
Scientific claims challenged
The work of Sørensen and Dalgleish contradicts the international scientific consensus that, although the coronavirus pandemic originated in Wuhan, there is no evidence that it was artificially conceived.
An analysis of the first 41 Covid-19 patients published in the medical journal The Lancet revealed that in 27 cases there had been direct exposure to the Wuhan market, but not with the first known case. The World Health Organization has since published recommendations for those who work and visit these markets to reduce transmission between animals and emerging pathogens.
The report also claims that the virus has not mutated since its discovery, suggesting that it was already fully adapted to humans. However, several published studies have noted the evolution and mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 strains.
Sørensen told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the virus has properties very different from SARS, another coronavirus, and that it has never been detected in the wild. He said China and the United States have been collaborating on coronavirus research for many years through “gain of function” studies, in which the pathogenicity or transmissibility of potential pandemic pathogens could be improved in order to understand them better.
Gunnveig Grødeland works as a vaccine researcher at the University of Oslo. In a reprimand of the original interview, she told NRK that what Sørensen called inserted sequences could not be taken as evidence of unnatural origin: “You will also find it in several other viruses, including the HIV. We have also seen something similar in other coronaviruses. ”
Other prominent voices in the scientific community and the fight against the pandemic have dismissed claims that the coronavirus was of human origin. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said there was no scientific evidence for the claims, while leading researchers from the World Health Organization and the Galveston National Laboratory also dismissed the rumors.
Report previously rejected
The telegraph said the study was originally rejected by several academic journals, including “Nature” and “Journal of Virology”, indicating that they considered the article unsuitable for publication. Sørensen said the original study linked the development of the vaccine to the original research and that they have since divided the research. He said a second study with more details on the origin of the virus will be published soon.
The report published in Biophysical quarterly review explains the rationale for the development of Biovacc-19, a candidate vaccine for COVID-19 which is currently in advanced preclinical development. Sørensen has a financial interest in Immunor, the Norwegian company behind the vaccine.
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