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.

Media Coverage
NIH Director’s Blog – Genomic Study Points to Natural Origin of COVID-19
Forbes – No, COVID-19 Coronavirus Was Not Bioengineered. Here’s The Research That Debunks That Idea
VICE – Once and for All, the New Coronavirus Was Not Made in a Lab
Newsweek – Coronavirus Did Not Originate in a Lab – It is the Product of Natural Evolution, Scientists Say
Live Science – The Coronavirus Did Not Escape From a Lab. Here’s How We Know

Frequently Asked Questions
Scripps Research – COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Press Release
Scripps Research – The COVID-19 Coronavirus Epidemic has a Natural Origin, Scientists Say