Stanley Perlman:; There is no reason to believe that it was artificially created, or that it was mistakenly released from the laboratory. There is no evidence for these claims.
Stanley Perlman, University of Iowa, professor of microbiology and immunology, talks about the origin of the coronavirus that caused the pandemic.
Margot Gontard: There are popular theories that the COVID-19 coronavirus is of artificial origin. What do you think of it?
Stanley Perlman: I think that it is not artificial, as it looks the same as the coronaviruses that we meet in nature. There are very small differences, but it is a typical coronavirus. There is no reason to believe that it was artificially created or that it was released from the laboratory by mistake. There is no evidence for these claims. It behaves like a normal coronavirus found in bats in China. I sometimes talk to journalists from the Chinese media and they ask me if the US could have released the virus? But this is just as ridiculous as the idea that it was released by the Institute of Virology (in Wuhan). Nothing confirms these claims..
M.G .: Why do we know this?
S.P .: Because this virus is the same as in bats. It is extremely difficult to manipulate coronaviruses: they have a very large genome. Given that it is very similar to bat viruses, there is no reason to think of it as anything other than a bat virus that changed hosts before infecting humans. There is nothing extraordinary in the genome sequence of this coronavirus. And again – it would be very difficult to do it. Nature does it much better than us.
M.G .: Is it difficult to create a coronavirus?
S.P .: I think it would be almost impossible to do what nature has already done. Coronavirus is extremely difficult to manipulate: it has a very large genome. In addition, nature has already done this with bats in China. This virus strain is no different from other coronaviruses we know. It is very similar to the coronaviruses from Southeast Asia and the virus we found in pangolins in China. There are many similar viruses in nature.
M.G .: The fact that it is so similar to other coronaviruses proves its natural origin.?
S.P .: Yes, I think this is the best way to explain it. It’s hard to prove anything in science. We never think we have proven anything for sure. But this is the closest explanation to proof..
M.G .: Is it possible that the coronavirus was created as a biological weapon?
S.P .: No, this is absolutely impossible. It’s just a bat virus that has learned to migrate to other animals in order to eventually infect humans. Judging by the sequence of the genome, by all the characteristics, there is nothing unusual in it that might make one think of it as a biological weapon. Everything we know about this virus matches what we know about the naturally occurring coronaviruses..
M.G .: Is it possible to take a coronavirus and create a new one based on it??
S.P .: You cannot do this. It is simply impossible to take the bat virus, know in advance what to change in it, do it and get the strain that we now have. It’s impossible! I do not like the word “impossible”, it is too radical, but in this case I use it.
M.G .: It’s hard to do from the point of view of technology, science or finance?
S.P .: All of the above. It’s impossible! The simplest explanation should always be used: if it looks like a bat virus, smells like a bat virus, behaves like a bat virus, then it is a bat virus.
MG: It would make sense, from your point of view, to create this coronavirus for use as a biological weapon?
S.P .: I think this is extremely unlikely. If I had chosen bioweapons, I would not have opted for the coronavirus. It’s too hard, too unreliable.
M.G .: Because it is difficult to work with him and because he has a low mortality rate?
S.P .: Yes, precisely because the mortality rate is low and because it is difficult to work with it. There is a reason why there were only ten virologists dealing with coronaviruses in the US until 2019, it is because these viruses are so hard to work with. If you decided to make bioweapons, then it would be the worst virus to achieve this goal..
M.G .: Can a virus “escape” from the laboratory??
S.P .: Let’s talk about this particular virus. He can “escape” from the laboratory, the virus has such a way if someone gets infected with it. First, the person working in the laboratory has to get infected, who will go to some place where he will infect many people in order for a large outbreak of the disease to occur. It is impossible for the virus to slip out the door, run away and start infecting people. The infected laboratory employee had to neglect the safety rules. People working in my laboratory will have to try very hard to get infected: they will have to take off their protective suit, wash their hands in the virus, and then apply them to their face, which is unlikely.
M.G .: You follow the rules of social distancing?
S.P .: I live in a small town. I just stay at home with my wife, and in the office and in the laboratory we keep two meters apart. I think this is correct. Stopping public events like going to bars and sporting events is very good to prevent the spread of the virus. This must be done! When we work with a virus, we do it in a special laboratory. We wear special protective suits that cover our entire body, special face masks. We are fully protected. We don’t walk at home like that, but this is what we do when we deal with the virus..
M.G .: It’s scary to put on all these uniforms and go to the laboratory?
S.P .: No, on the contrary. For those who are worried about this, the laboratory is the best place. You are very protected.
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Coronavirus COVID-19 and the theory of artificial origin
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