COVID-19: A Scientific Conspiracy?

COVID-19: A Scientific Conspiracy?

Conspiracy theories come hand-in-hand with any global event. 

The coronavirus pandemic has also led to the concoction of enumerable conspiracy theories. In fact, due to the plethora of theories stating that the COVID-19 virus was engineered in labs and accidentally leaked, the United States government wanted to launch an investigation in Wuhan, China. Many have noted that this pandemic is the beginning of biological warfare. However, the results of recent scientific studies disagree with this theory

Any genetically created virus is a combination of pre-existing ones. A research team consisting of evolutionary biologists and virologists set out to study the features of COVID-19. It observed that the spike protein of the contagion has 12 extra RNA (Ribonucleic acid) or nucleotides than normal viruses. 

The spike protein is the one that allows the virus to latch onto the human cells. When the virus releases amino acids, cleaving sites for the furin enzyme get created. Furin helps in removing sections in newly-synthesized proteins and activating them. Furin is only made in human cells and cuts proteins only when a specific combination of amino acids is present. 

The SARS virus did not have such cleaving sites, making COVID-19 more transmissible than other viruses. Such features can’t be lab-made.

The research group found that the virus was a mix of bat and pangolin viruses. The genes of RNA viruses, such as coronavirus, can be swapped in nature. The fact that SARS-CoV- 2 has been related to pangolin genes is a strong argument to prove that it isn’t a lab-engineered one. The pangolins have amino acids that bind tightly to spike proteins which resolves the mystery of why human proteins bind tighter than average to the coronavirus. The spike protein of COVID-19 can also latch onto sugar molecules which act as a shield to the human immune system as well as the pangolin system. Such mucin-shields cannot be built in laboratories since these facilities are not available. Not yet.

Hence, we can conclude that COVID-19 does seem like another animal-human transmission. A lot of political tensions have arisen from these conspiracy theories, leading to a blame-game. However, we should not forget that truth lies in science. We must do our best to stay safe, stay healthy, and stay strong.

-Shyla Upadhyay

Sources

https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/listeningpost/2020/05/conspiracy-virus-covid-19-misinformation-200523052923378.html

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