Fresh suspicion that Covid may have been tinkered with in a lab emerged today after scientists found genetic material owned by Moderna in the virus’s spike protein.
They identified a tiny snippet of code that is identical to part of a gene patented by the vaccine maker three years before the pandemic.
It was discovered in SARS-CoV-2’s unique furin cleavage site, the part that makes it so good at infecting people and separates it from other coronaviruses.
The structure has been one of the focal points of debate about the virus’s origin, with some scientists claiming it could not have been acquired naturally.
The international team of researchers suggest the virus may have mutated to have a furin cleavage site during experiments on human cells in a lab.
They claim there is a one-in-three-trillion chance Moderna’s sequence randomly appeared through natural evolution.
But there is some debate about whether the match is as rare as the study claims, with other experts describing it as a ‘quirky’ coincidence rather than a ‘smoking gun’.
In the latest study, published in Frontiers in Virology, researchers compared Covid’s makeup to millions of sequenced proteins on an online database.
The virus is made up of 30,000 letters of genetic code that carry the information it needs to spread, known as nucleotides.