A pangolin in defensive posture, Horniman Museum, London
Original Published Date: 
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Full article issued by The University of Sydney

An international research team including ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor Edward Holmes, has published research which considers the question of whether coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was deliberately engineered.

Their article, which appeared in the journal Nature Medicine on 17 March 2020, has quickly become the highest-ranked Altmetric paper of all time, according to The University of Sydney.

Since the first reports of COVID-19 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, there has been considerable discussion on the origin of the virus. To answer this question, the researchers looked at the notable features of the virus's genome and considered scenarios by which they could have arisen. Their conclusion was that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus. 

Professor Holmes, who is based at The University of Sydney, was also part of the research team that first identified the pangolin as the intermediate host which facilitated the transfer of COVID-19 to humans from it's origin in bats, highlighting the dangers associated with the illegal trafficking of wildlife for food and medicine. This research has been published in Nature.

Photo credit: 

Image: A pangolin in defensive posture, Horniman Museum, London. Credit: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).