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Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Wikipedia

Chinese scientists discover ‘HIV-like’ feature in Cornovirus mutation

Scientists in China and Europe have found that the Coronavirus has an "HIV-like mutation" which allows it to bind with human cells, up to a thousand times stronger than the SARS virus.

Published: February 27, 2020, 6:10 am

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    According to the South China Morning Post, new research by a team from Nankai University, shows that COV-19 has an “HIV-like mutation” that allows it to enter the human body with easy by binding with a receptor called ACE2 on a cell membrane.

    Other highly contagious viruses, including HIV and Ebola, similarly target an enzyme called furin, which works as a protein activator in the human body. According to the new study, the “mutation” has a binding method which is “100 to 1 000 times” as efficient.

    The genome sequence of the new Coronavirus, studied by Professor Ruan Jishou and his team at Nankai University in Tianjin found a section of mutated genes that did not exist in SARS, but were similar to those found in HIV and Ebola.

    “This finding suggests that 2019-nCoV [the new Coronavirus] may be significantly different from the SARS Coronavirus in the infection pathway,” the paper published this month on Chinaxiv.org revealed.

    The website is a platform used by the Chinese Academy of Sciences which releases research papers prior to peer-review. “This virus may use the packing mechanisms of other viruses such as HIV,” they underscored.

    At the end of January, a team of Indian scientists published a now-retracted paper claiming that the Coronavirus may have been genetically engineered to incorporate parts of the HIV genome, noting that the “uncanny similarity of novel inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag is unlikely to be fortuitous in nature,” suggesting that it was unlikely to have occurred naturally.

    This essentially means that the Coronavirus may be an airborne version of HIV, a feature which makes it extremely infectious. The odds of such a natural “random” mutation are extremely small.

    Western scientists have suggested that the new Coronavirus was dormant in bats and then “crossed over” to humans through an unknown species – possibly a Pangolin – before it emerged at a Wuhan, China meat market right next to a level-4 bioweapons laboratory.

    On November 18, 2019, the Chinese virology institute was seeking to hire researchers to study “bats to research the molecular mechanism that allows Ebola and SARS-associated Coronaviruses that lie dormant for a long time without causing diseases”.

    According to the report in the SCMP, a follow-up study from a Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan confirmed the Nankai findings.

    A study by French scientist Etienne Decroly at Aix-Marseille University, which was published in the scientific journal Antiviral Research on February 10, also found a “furin-like cleavage site” that is absent in similar Coronaviruses.

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