To finish with the “covid-19 laboratory”

Jean-François Cliche
The Sun

Pour en finir avec la «covid-19 de laboratoire»

March 22, 2020 4: 00


To finish with the “covid-19 laboratory”


SCIENCE DAILY / “What to think of the information that is currently circulating that it is of French and chinese researchers who have created the virus of the covid-19 a few years ago and that would have filed the patent the following : For my part, I believe that this is a fake news, but didn’t have the necessary arguments to refute this information with my loved ones” asks Violet Tardif of Quebec.

It is actually a fake news olympic-caliber circulating in one form or another for weeks, and this in several languages and in many countries, because as long as you put a bit of imagination, you can find a lot of patents that “prove” that the covid-19 would have been created in the laboratory. For example, a YouTube video that was very popular in these days claims that the”invention” would be the work of the Pasteur Institute in France, and it supports its thesis on a patent only French. In the version that I will submit to Ms Late, it is both in France and in China that the famous coronavirus had been manufactured. And I’ve also seen another version alleging a patent only american, a neurotic (particularly impolite, by the way) put on my page Facebook a few weeks ago.

All of these patents have one thing in common, which is collapsing the scaffolds were intellectual theses conspiracy : they are all coronavirus emerged in 2002-03 and responsible for the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and not the one that causes the covid-19.

When read carefully, one also realizes that what is patented has nothing to do with the “creation” of a new pathogen. As well, the one that sends me Ms Late indicates : “The present invention is related to [SARS], to nucleic acid molecules derived from its genome, proteins and peptides coded by said nucleic acid molecules as well as their applications, such as diagnostic reagents, and/or as a vaccine” (my underlining). The us patent, which dates from 2007, made no mention of a pathogen that would have been “developed”, but speaks rather of a”human coronavirus newly isolated has been identified as the cause of SARS”. These documents-there explicitly address the discovery of a virus, not a manufacture, and their authors do make that claim to the intellectual property of a portion of its genome and associated proteins.

Yes, but I will answer without a doubt some conspiracy, the SARS outbreak of 2002 is actually a close relative of the coronavirus current. Their official names are the same “SARS-cov” (for SARS) and SARS-cov2″ (for the covid-19). It is the pure truth, of course, but this does not mean that these patents relate to both at once : they focus explicitly and solely on the SARS.

Now, why has there been so many of these patents (or applications) ? In the early 2000s, when SARS appeared, infecting 8,000 people and mowing down nearly 800 of them, the rules surrounding patents were not the same as today and it was not clear whether the sequencing of a gene constituted a patentable “invention” or not. Although there was a good level of international cooperation in research on SARS, there was nevertheless a sort of “race” to patent its genes. It was also about other microbes and by elsewhere, and a debate was already raging on what was patentable or not. Be the first to sequence a gene confers upon the intellectual property of this gene ? Is it in the public interest that each vaccine and diagnostic test manufactured by the following from this gene/protein may be required to pay a sort of “copyright” to its discoverers ? And anyway, is it really an “invention” or is it that the mere discovery of what already existed is just not patentable ?

From the outset, experts like the lawyer, australian Matthew Rimmer have denounced this situation as impeding access to health care and the advancement of research, which requires good co-operation. In addition, wrote Mr. Rimmer in 2004 in the Melbourne Journal of International Law, enforcement and defense of patent consume a lot of resources for research institutions. Most of the countries have changed their laws on patenting in the years that followed.

To return to the covid-19 itself, it is important to note that a study published last week in Nature Medicine described as”improbable” the idea that it is derived from manipulations made in the laboratory. These viruses have proteins on their surface that are used to “cling” to our lung cells to infect them ; however, in this game, those of covid-19 are “good, but no more”, has popularized one of the authors on his Twitter account. We know much better, then the scientists wanting to make a virus “efficient” to make us sick would no doubt have made a different choice.

In addition, a design in the lab would be part of a “basic model”, a “virus of departure”, which would then have been changed, so that various parts of its genome would be identical to the “model”. But the study of Nature – Medicine concludes in this regard that “the genetic data show irrefutably that SARS-cov2 has not been made from any viral model previously used”. The authors feel, as virtually the entire scientific community, that we are dealing with a virus that was present in an animal reservoir (probably bats) and that would have made the jump to the human species recently, but they say to ignore if the virus mutated in animals before moving to humans or if it made the leap first, and was adapted thereafter.

In all cases, it would be necessary to finish with these stories of manufacturing in lab, don’t stick at all to the reality.

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