A prime suspect in the 'wet market' coronavirus origin theory was just given a pass, after a peer-reviewed study found that the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, could not have jumped from pangolins to humans.
As a refresher, SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19 in humans, is 96% identical to a coronavirus strain found in bats known as RaTG13 - which was incidentally collected in a cave in Yunnan, China by scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
On its own, RaTG13 cannot infect humans, however SARS-CoV-2 has a 'receptor binding motif' (RBM) which is identical to a pangolin strain of coronavirus - stoking speculation that pangolins were an intermediary species, or 'reservoir' between RaTG13 and SARS-CoV-2 (despite the fact that pangolins weren't sold at the wet market).
That theory has just been disproven by a team of researchers in Guangdong, China.
The outbreak of a novel corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the city of Wuhan, China has resulted in more than 1.7 million laboratory confirmed cases all over the world. Recent studies showed that SARS-CoV-2 was likely originated from bats, but its intermediate hosts are still largely unknown. In this study, we assembled the complete genome of a coronavirus identified in 3 sick Malayan pangolins. The molecular and phylogenetic analyses showed that this pangolin coronavirus (pangolin-CoV-2020) is genetically related to the SARS-CoV-2 as well as a group of bat coronaviruses but do not support the SARS-CoV-2 emerged directly from the pangolin-CoV-2020.
Which leaves us with the following leading theories as to the origins of SARS-CoV-2:
- A bat coronavirus with a never before seen pangolin-like RBM came from a wet market that didn't sell bats or pangolins, and now some other species is the intermediary - unless a pangolin is eventually found with SARS-CoV-2.
- It was engineered at Fort Detrick, Maryland's USAMRIID and spread by the US army in a clandestine mission last October during a sporting event in Wuhan, China (a theory promoted by the CCP).
- Scientists working with bat coronavirus, in the exact town it emerged from - who made headlines in 2015 for modifying bat coronaviruses specifically to infect humans (and were internationally admonished for it) - either created SARS-CoV-2 by splicing pangolin receptors onto RaTG13, or captured it in nature, and an employee accidentally infected herself before going shopping at the wet market during the virus's long asymptomatic period (and hasn't been heard from since).
Read the peer-reviewed study below: