AT THE START I should caution readers that the scientific literature is littered with controversies and that the very basis of scientific proof, for any proof worth its salt, a proof must not simply be demonstrable by its authors, but subject to further experimentation by peers. In other words, for any theory to be accepted as true, it must be subject to peer review, and corroborated by experiments which are both demonstrable and repeatable.
And for obvious reasons the history of the HIV epidemic, in particular the policies of the Mbeki administration remind us that it is important to keep an open mind and to allow debate to occur before jumping to conclusions.
It may therefore come as a shock that no less than the co-discoverer of HIV, Professor Luc Montagnier, 2008 Nobel Prize winner for Medicine, is at the centre of a growing controversy around allegations that SARS-CoV-2 is a chimera — a combination of several viruses, and possibly man-made.
Reasons why this may turn out to not be the case at all, are supplied below.
Luc Montagnier claims that SARS-CoV-2 is a manipulated virus that was accidentally released from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. Chinese researchers are said to have used coronaviruses in their work to develop an AIDS vaccine. HIV RNA fragments are thus believed to have been found in the SARS-CoV-2 genome.
His claims are based upon alleged evidence which has yet to be peer reviewed, and a paper which has been submitted for publication by mathematician and researcher, Jean-claude Perez.
Perez maintains ‘It is very likely that there was HUMAN INTERVENTION in this LYONS’s region of wuhan genome: Analysis of this region in all coronaviruses shows a 100% jump in homology for the Wuhan genomes and 70 to 80% for the closest SARS. Although there is already a trace of ENV HIV1 in the genome that we have referenced here SARS2003. While there is NO TRACE of HIV1 ENV in the region (Lyons-weiler 20020) in all other SARS Coronavirus genomes.”
He supplies various proofs and includes two diagrams which we publish here for the sake of discussion.
‘Based on the study published by Jean-Claude Pérez, who “delved into the smallest details of the sequence” of the virus’, reports Le Parisien, ‘Professor Montagnier argues that SARS-CoV-2 contains “sequences of another virus which is HIV, the AIDS virus ”. He adds that a “group of Indian researchers tried to publish an analysis” of the same type and that it was withdrawn “under enormous pressure”.’
‘But “the study of Indian biomathematicians was quickly invalidated by other work which, by looking into the computer study of the genome, proved that there was no HIV sequence”, recalls Anne Goffard, virologist and teacher at the Faculty of Pharmacy in Lille.’
The study in question was also withdrawn by the authors themselves after “the comments received from the research community on their technical approach and their interpretation of the results”, can be read on the site BioRxiv , host of the publication.’
For the mathematical study provided by Jean-Claude Pérez, Étienne Decroly, CNRS researcher at the Architecture laboratory develops an analogy: “The sequence of a virus corresponds to 30 pages of a book. We scientists have tools to try to determine if a paragraph from this book has ever existed in another book. We have the sequences of all known viruses available. As for similarities with HIV, it is as if the word ‘hat’ appeared four times in two different books. We can, by chance, have sequences that look alike without demonstrating intentional modifications ”.
There is also published work refuting the idea that SARS-Cov-2 is a chimera.
And of course it all depends upon how one defines natural vs artificial. A chance occurrence of parts of a genome sequence from HIV may be the result of in vivo evolution of the virus genome, since chimeras may be created from two separate viruses inside the body, and what Perez may be observing is the unreported possibility that the samples sequenced were taken from patients that were already infected with HIV.
One should remember that what all RNA Coronoviruses have in common is the remarkable ability to assemble themselves via hijacking the bodies own cellular mechanisms. Cells already infected with HIV may therefore result in the exact same genome subjected to analysis by Perez. A simple case of looking too closely at an object seen from afar?
Or just another factor of the infodemic and failure to correctly unravel the viral family tree?
I could also be wrong and just plain Dunning–Kruger, as one researcher put it.
Only time can tell which view of reality is the truth.
UPDATE: The withdrawn study appears to be one and same research conducted by Perez, and published in International Journal of Research – Granthaalayah