Posted on Mar 09, 2020, 6 p.m.
While most of the mainstream is insisting that COVID-19 is not man made, rather a naturally occurring mutation, recent research from Europe and China has revealed that this disease happens to have an HIV like mutation which allows it to bind with human cells up to 1,000 times stronger than the SARS virus, according to SCMP.
In January 2020 a team of scientists wrote a paper that has since been retracted claiming that this coronavirus may have been genetically engineered to contain parts of the HIV genome, in the report they wrote: "This uncanny similarity of novel inserts in the 2019- nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag is unlikely to be fortuitous in nature," in other words they are suggesting that it is unlikely to have occurred naturally.
Fast forward to more recently new research from Nankai University in which the team writes that this COV-19 has an HIV like mutation that allows it to rapidly enter the human body with an ACE2 receptor on a cell membrane:
“Other highly contagious viruses, including HIV and Ebola, target an enzyme called furin, which works as a protein activator in the human body. Many proteins are inactive or dormant when they are produced and have to be “cut” at specific points to activate their various functions.
When looking at the genome sequence of the new coronavirus, 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,” writes -SCMP.
"This finding suggests that 2019-nCoV [the new coronavirus] may be significantly different from the Sars coronavirus in the infection pathway," reads the paper published this month on Chinaxiv.org - 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 added.
To help with the confusion this latest report claims that this coronavirus may contain a specific HIV like feature that makes it abundantly infectious which may be the result of a “bizarre mutation.” Since this report is not claiming that it was created to be an airborne version of HIV, rather a unexpected mutation they will most likely not have to retract it, even if the odds of such a bizarre and “random” mutation taking place naturally are extremely low.
According to the new report the mutation can generate a structure known as a cleavage site in the COVID-19’s spike protein, as compared to the SARS way of entry this binding method is 100 to 1000 times as efficient, according to the research team.
“The virus uses the outreaching spike protein to hook on to the host cell, but normally this protein is inactive. The cleavage site structure’s job is to cheat the human furin protein, so it will cut and activate the spike protein and cause a “direct fusion” of the viral and cellular membranes.” -SCMP
According to another paper published by Dr. Zhou Peng of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is a follow up of a study from Huazhong University of Science and Technology:
“The mutation could not be found in Sars, Mers or Bat-CoVRaTG13, a bat coronavirus that was considered the original source of the new coronavirus with 96 percent similarity in genes” it said. This could be “the reason why SARS-CoV-2 is more infectious than other coronaviruses”, Li wrote in a paper released on Chinarxiv on Sunday.
French scientist Etienne Decroly at Aix-Marseille University, has published a study in the scientific journal Antiviral Research finding a “furin-like cleavage site” that is absent in similar coronaviruses.
Drugs targeting the furin enzyme are speculated to potentially hinder the virus replication inside of the host human body, and drugs for consideration include “a series of HIV-1 therapeutic drugs such as Indinavir, Tenofovir Alafenamide, Tenofovir Disoproxil and Dolutegravir and hepatitis C therapeutic drugs including Boceprevir and Telaprevir," according to Li's study.
This conclusion is inline with those of several reports from doctors who have self administered HIV drugs after they had tested positive for COVID-19, however it is worth noting that there have been no clinical tests conducted to either confirm or reject their theory.
The Chinese CDC at first didn’t consider this as a major threat, saying there was no evidence of human to human transmission, but this was invalidated quickly. There are suggestions that the link to furin may shed light on the evolution of the virus history that facilitated the jump to humans, as the “unexpected insertion” could come from coronavirus in rats or a species of avian flu, but more research is required to determine the cause of the bizarre mutation, all happening perfectly naturally, of course.
One important factoid not to overlook is that the ACE2 protein typically doesn’t exist in large quantities in healthy people.
So another question that comes to light from this is what is the risk for those who are taking ACE receptor inhibiting drugs such as those with hypertension? Are ACE drugs predisposing people with hypertension to the coronavirus? The American Heart Association estimates that there are 103 million American adults with high blood pressure alone and ACE inhibitors are the fourth most utilized drug class in America. Additionally, the older population is more prone to hypertension, and more likely to be taking ACE Rx. That could be a lot of people at an increased risk.
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