The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2
Nature Medicine 2020 Apr;26(4):450-452. doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-0820-9.
Andersen KG, Rambaut A, Lipkin WA, Holmes EC, Garry RF.
Since the first reports of novel pneumonia (COVID-19) in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, there has been considerable discussion on the origin of the causative virus, SARS-CoV-2 (also referred to as HCoV-19). Infections with SARS-CoV-2 are now widespread, and as of 11 March 2020, 121,564 cases have been confirmed in more than 110 countries, with 4,373 deaths.
SARS-CoV-2 is the seventh coronavirus known to infect humans; SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 can cause severe disease, whereas HKU1, NL63, OC43 and 229E are associated with mild symptoms. Here we review what can be deduced about the origin of SARS-CoV-2 from comparative analysis of genomic data. We offer a perspective on the notable features of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and discuss scenarios by which they could have arisen. Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.
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