A synthetic origin of SARS-CoV-2
What we know, and what we don't
Drs. Valentin Bruttel, Tony VanDongen and I recently released a pre-print providing evidence of a synthetic origin of SARS-CoV-2.
I wanted to share a more popular blurb of what we found, its limitations, and what we can and cannot conclude from our work. I’ll cover the bioengineering methods used to make infectious clones, the genomic fingerprints of this technology, what we found in SARS-CoV-2, how we could be wrong, and what this all means.
First and foremost, I want to say: our use of the word “synthetic” derives from “synthesis”. There are methods to synthesize viruses in the lab, and we study those methods. In talking with friends & family, I learned that “synthetic” can have a more nefarious connotation, so I want to clarify that we find absolutely no evidence of anything nefarious. We find no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 being a bioweapon (on the contrary, this looks like an accident) or any gain of function work. We find evidence suggesting SARS-CoV-2 may have been synthesized in the lab with known methods, probably for normal pre-COVID research purposes.
Idiot’s Guide to Infectious Clones
Like “synthetic”, “infectious clone” also has a nefarious sound to it, but I want to dispel that right away. Infectious clones are simply clones of a virus that can go on to infect cells. Infectious clones can be very bad at infecting, and still be infectious clones. If you’ve seen or read the hit anime Naruto, Naruto clones himself and sometimes his clones are duds. Same with infectious clones, the “the replication technique” of modern virology.
To make an infectious clone, we need a DNA copy of a virus. SARS-CoV-2 is a large, RNA virus.
Genomic Fingerprints of Infectious Clones
A Synthetic Fingerprint on SARS-CoV-2
How we could be wrong