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Despite claims from prominent scientists that SARS‐CoV‐2 indubitably emerged naturally, the etiology of this novel coronavirus remains a pressing and open question: Without knowing the true nature of a disease, it is impossible for clinicians to appropriately shape their care, for policy‐makers to correctly gauge the nature and extent of the threat, and for the public to appropriately modify their behavior. Unless the intermediate host necessary for completing a natural zoonotic jump is identified, the dual‐use gain‐of‐function research practice of viral serial passage should be considered a viable route by which the novel coronavirus arose. The practice of serial passage mimics a natural zoonotic jump, and offers explanations for SARS‐CoV‐2’s distinctive spike‐protein region and its unexpectedly high affinity for angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE2), as well as the notable polybasic furin cleavage site within it. Additional molecular clues raise further questions, all of which warrant full investigation into the novel coronavirus’s origins and a re‐examination of the risks and rewards of dual‐use gain‐of‐function research.
Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠