A 2015 TgR Leonardo report talks about the creation of a lung virus in the laboratory, experts deny links with COVID-19.
A service from the social networks is bouncing from one account to another TgR Leonardo, focused on the creation in the laboratory of a coronavirus derived from bats. A piece of news that would not have caused a particular sensation these days, considering how the origins of the new COVID-19 have long been discussed in recent weeks, if the service was not dated 2015. It was in fact on November 16 of that year when the Rai's thematic study announced the creation, by Chinese scientists, of “a pulmonary supervirus from bats and mice“. But this experiment can be really connected to the current one coronavirus 2019-nCoV?
The service in question tells a story that occurred in November 2015, when a study launched by some Chinese researchers had raised controversy in the scientific community. According to what has been said, some scholars had announced the possibility of modifying a virus potentially capable of determining one acute respiratory syndrome, in order to make the virus itself compatible with the human organism. To do this, the researchers would have recovered a protein from the bats – the SHCO14 – to allow the virus to attack human lung cells, without going through an intermediate host such as a mouse. An experiment considered safe, according to the researchers, which would have led to a virus similar to that of SARS but with significantly lower lethality, for simple study purposes. A possibility that had raised protests at an international level, for fear that the virus could escape the control of the laboratory, becoming dangerous for humans.
It is precisely this molecule, called SHCO14, which allows the coronavirus to attach itself to our respiratory cells, triggering the syndrome. According to the researchers, the organism, the original one, and even more so the engineered one, can infect humans directly from bats, without going through an intermediate species such as the mouse. And it is precisely this possibility that raises many controversies. Just one year ago, the US government suspended funding for research aimed at making viruses more contagious, but the moratorium had not stopped the Chinese work on SARS which was already well advanced and considered not so dangerous; according to a part of the scientific world it is not: the probability that the virus passes to our species would be irrelevant to the benefits. An argument that many other experts reject. First, because the relationship between risk and benefit is difficult to evaluate, and then because especially in these times it is more prudent not to put into circulation organisms that can escape or be removed from the control of the laboratories.
As suggestive as the analogy with the coronavirus 2019-nCoV, responsible for COVID-19, there would be no real connection with the 2015 experiment and the current pandemic. As reported by the ANSA news agency, the virologist from his social channels Roberto Burioni has dismissed this hypothesis, reporting a study published in Nature which confirms the completely natural origin of the new coronavirus.
TgR himself intervened on the matter, with the words of Alessandro Casarin – director of the Rai regional newspaper – always reported by ANSA:
The service of 16 November 2015 aired in the “Leonardo” column of TgR is taken from a publication of the journal Nature. Just three days ago the same magazine made it clear that the virus the service talks about, created in the laboratory, has no relation to the natural Covid-19 virus.