Health

“Probable error in the laboratory for Covid, but more evidence on the virus is needed” – Corriere.it

Of Margherita De Bac

The president of the Italian Society of Virology: it has already happened that a microorganism has escaped scientists

Does Arnaldo Caruso, president of the Italian Virology Society, convince you of the hypothesis on the origin of the pandemic virus? In an interview with Corriere della Sera, his colleague Giorgio Pal defines it plausible that the spillover with a jump of human animal species could have occurred due to accidental causes in the laboratory while the bat virus was being grown in vitro.

Yes, I also think the hypothesis is suggestive and plausible, especially in the light of the evidence described in the study published on February 21 in the journal Frontiers in virology of which Pal one of the authors. In the gene of the virus that encodes the Spike protein, a sequence of 19 letters is inserted, a sequence that is the exclusive prerogative of man. And the very one that allowed Sars-CoV-2 to adapt to our cells.

Therefore?

A recombination could have occurred between two viruses, the bat and the human, in an environment intended for the manipulation of microorganisms for research purposes. An involuntary contamination, without malice, and I underline it. I would not like there to be speculations or that there was a thought of a criminal operation. Who would have ever had an interest in unleashing a pandemic ?.

A no vax would reply that a pandemic would have been convenient for pharmaceutical companies.

Come on. This science fiction and I do not even want to comment. dangerous to listen to these inventions.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly sent its inspectors to China to investigate the origin of the pandemic, but local authorities have not provided comprehensive answers to crucial questions. Need any more clues?

Certainly, to strengthen the hypothesis of the escape from the laboratory, new insights and the study of Frontiers in virology, correctly, he underlines it twice. It is not excluded that the recombination may have occurred in nature, we will only find out by sequencing as many bat coronaviruses as possible to discover that perhaps there is someone closer to Sars-CoV-2 than we could have imagined.

So the thesis of a natural origin remains standing?

As Pal himself observes, there is a lack of objective evidence that the virus passed directly from bat to man or indirectly through an intermediate host (pangolin and snake were spoken of. ed) or, again, through several successive exchanges.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a microorganism has escaped the laboratory’s control system, perhaps by infecting an operator during one of the experiments. Could it also have happened in the center of Wuhan, the city where the first cases of pneumonia occurred?

We have many precedents in the history of research. No, it wouldn’t be the first time a viral entity has gotten out of control, by mistake.

In an editorial published on February 14 in the journal Plos Biology, the authors wonder whether it would be better to avoid some experiments which, although designed on the basis of good purposes, use human cells and viruses. What do you think?

We are professionals, every experiment, if conducted with rigor, must be carried out otherwise we will never proceed to accumulate new knowledge. It would be wrong to set limits. Some researches can be dangerous but in qualified laboratories the risk is close to zero. It is important that these activities are monitored by commissions of external experts, including as guarantors of safety. Experimentation can become dangerous in uncontrolled or controllable centers.

We are almost at the end of the epidemic in Italy, will we no longer be involved in new waves?

It is very unlikely that a variant of the virus will come up so threatening that it puts us in trouble. Any change in the virus will be pejorative for him in the sense that he will have to give up some of its capabilities, in terms of transmissibility or aggression, if he wants to adapt to man, as he has every interest to do. But we must get used to the idea of ​​reviewing the outbreaks next autumn. This is why it is very important to vaccinate the frail with the fourth dose.

March 8, 2022 (change March 8, 2022 | 07:47)

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