American biologist David Baltimore discarded his theory that Covid-19 was genetically created. The Nobel laureate had described a “smoking gun” thesis that the virus escaped from a Wuhan lab. The expert said he was exaggerating when referring to the case.
Baltimore became a prominent figure and cited by proponents of the laboratory leak theory. The academic was quoted in an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in May. That text was widely disseminated and he became listed from that moment.
On that occasion he focused on a specific feature in the Covid-19 coronavirus genome. This is the well-known cleavage site of the furin enzyme, which he identified as the “smoking gun.” For him that virus had been contained within a laboratory and then escaped through a leak.
At the time, he stated that “these characteristics represent a powerful challenge to the idea of a natural origin for Sars2.” In recent days, Baltimore said it shouldn’t have used that phrase.. He did so in dialogues with a researcher, the Nature Magazine and the newspaper Los Angeles Times.
The biologist commented that he was not sure what was the characteristic about the origin of the virus, natural or otherwise. In dialogue with LA Times admitted that he had exaggerated and was open-minded. Baltimore said it “should have softened the phrase ‘smoking gun.”
The expert added that “the question of whether the sequence was introduced naturally or by molecular manipulation it is very difficult to determine“. Then he indicated that “he would not rule out any.” The Nobel made it clear to Nature that “there are other possibilities and they need careful consideration.”
Your thesis prompted the resurgence of the fugue theory of a laboratory. His words joined US intelligence reports not verified. The version was that three members of the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in November 2019 with symptoms of Covid-19.
His version led US President Joe Biden to order investigations by intelligence agencies. In parallel the World Health Organization called for “depoliticizing” the debate on the virus. Even the European Union expects “progress” from a “transparent” study without “interference”.
The scientific debate remains focused on whether the site of division of the virus furin enzyme it happened by human manipulation and not by evolving naturally. Some scientists point out that the same feature occurs in other common coronaviruses, including those that cause colds.
The Guardian reports that Baltimore’s clarification comes when he was questioned in Nature for another of his claims. A colleague pointed out that a certain encoding was also a characteristic of the Sars virus, ruling out that it only occurred in the furin cleavage site segment.