The hiccups for COVID-19 have been pretty much intense in the past few days. From animal reservoirs, researchers are now tracing it down to controversies like ‘Lab made Bioweapon’.
Nevertheless, the true origins of SARS-CoV-2 remains in question. A new study according to Nature Medicine, has taken on interesting possibilities regarding the novel virus. One of the theories suggests that COVID-19 may have been circulating in human populations harmlessly for years. The genetic modification may have caused the virus to turn into a harmful pandemic making the entire world halt into its tracks.
According to the study, ‘”It is possible that a progenitor of SARS-CoV-2 jumped into humans, acquiring [new genomic features] through adaptation during undetected human-to-human transmission,” “Once acquired, these adaptations would enable the pandemic to take off and produce a sufficiently large cluster of cases.”
On genomic analysis, researchers realized that the receptor binding protein domain of SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins had a strong affinity with the human cells which can only be the works of natural selection.
The genomic data has been compared thoroughly by other researchers on which they have mutual consensus that the SARS-CoV-2 has evolved through natural selection.
This new research has ruled out the conspiracy of the lab to make coronavirus as the new bioweapon. As Kristin Anderson at Scripps Research said “Two features of the virus, the mutations in the RBD portion of the spike protein and its distinct backbone, rules out laboratory manipulation as a potential origin for SARS-CoV-2.”
Possible Origin of the COVID-19 Strain
Kris Anderson’s research team explored two possible hypotheses.
First hypothesis suggested the means of natural selection comes directly from the animals before it ever made its way to the humans. However, this hypothesis has certain limitations. The totality of coronavirus types is not much sampled. Further, the genomes found in bats and pangolins show scarce traces of SARS-CoV-2 original genome diversity.
The Second hypothesis is that coronavirus evolved in humans as a part of the natural selection process after it was transmitted from the animal host.
This hypothesis is also shared by Director of National Institute of Health, Francis Collins, who says ‘the new coronavirus crossed from animals into humans before it became capable of causing human disease, “Then, as a result of gradual evolutionary changes over years or perhaps decades, the virus eventually gained the ability to spread from human-to-human and cause serious, often life-threatening disease.”
Although both of these theories are in works, there has been no definite conclusion on the theories as yet but one thing is definite. COVID-19 had to make its way into the human population regardless of its main origin.
More scientific data will be required to swing the balance between the two hypotheses. More viral sequencing and sampling on other kinds of COVID-19 will be required from animal sources to understand what actually triggered COVID-19 in the first place.
Till then make sure you are washing your hands the right way and maintain social distancing as perfectly as you can!