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Journal Articles Environmental Research Year : 2021

There is no “origin” to SARS-CoV-2


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 caused by SARS-CoV-2, the question of the origin of this virus has been a highly debated issue. Debates have been, and are still, very disputed and often violent between the two main hypotheses: a natural origin through the “spillover” model or a laboratory-leak origin. Tenants of these two options are building arguments often based on the discrepancies of the other theory. The main problem is that it is the initial question of the origin itself which is biased. Charles Darwin demonstrated in 1859 that all species are appearing through a process of evolution, adaptation and selection. There is no determined origin to any animal or plant species, simply an evolutionary and selective process in which chance and environment play a key role. The very same is true for viruses. There is no determined origin to viruses, simply also an evolutionary and selective process in which chance and environment play a key role. However, in the case of viruses the process is slightly more complex because the “environment” is another living organism. Pandemic viruses already circulate in humans prior to the emergence of a disease. They are simply not capable of triggering an epidemic yet. They must evolve in-host, i.e. in-humans, for that. The evolutionary process which gave rise to SARS-CoV-2 is still ongoing with regular emergence of novel variants more adapted than the previous ones. The real relevant question is how these viruses can emerge as pandemic viruses and what the society can do to prevent the future emergence of pandemic viruses.
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hal-03381521 , version 1 (19-10-2021)


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Roger Frutos, Olivier Pliez, Laurent Gavotte, Christian Devaux. There is no “origin” to SARS-CoV-2. Environmental Research, 2021, pp.112173. ⟨10.1016/j.envres.2021.112173⟩. ⟨hal-03381521⟩
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