30 Aug 2021 14:25

Covid-19 has natural origin, infections might have started because of safety breach - expert

MOSCOW. Aug 30 (Interfax) - Covid-19 has natural origins, however, the first infections might have resulted from a safety breach in a lab studying the virus, General Director of Rospotrebnadzor's State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology Rinat Maksyutov said.

"Some viral laboratory or a number of laboratories received the infected variant, an isolate together with infected animals in the course of standard monitoring. Personnel got infected during laboratory studies of the natural variant, cell cultures and animals as a result of a breach of biosafety rules while the virus itself had natural origins," Maksyutov said at the Russian society Knowledge on Monday.

The natural origin of SARS-CoV-2 is proven by the existence of a recently found kin coronavirus, he said.

"Seriously speaking, the SARS-Cov-2 has natural origins, this is the 43rd coronavirus species, and the seventh species pathogenic to humans, all of them were transmitted from bats to humans through various intermediate hosts. This is confirmed by a kin virus detected over the past year: its genome differs from that of SARS-Cov-2 by only 1%, which means those viruses may have common ancestors," Maksyutov said.

The biologist did not rule out direct transmission of coronavirus from wild animals to humans.