Scientists Verify COVID-19 Wasn't Created in a Lab

Its origins are natural
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2020 8:19 AM CDT
Coronavirus Stays Viable for Days on Plastic
This undated electron microscope image made available by the US National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.   (NIAID-RML via AP)

(Newser) – If only the world was made of ... copper? Scientists with the National Institutes of Health on Tuesday released their results of a study on the novel coronavirus and how long it remains viable on various surfaces. Their findings, published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, weren't encouraging when it comes to plastic and stainless steel: the virus was still active after three days. The time decreased from there: 24 hours for cardboard and 4 hours for copper. Reuters reports they also determined the half-life of the virus in the air is 66 minutes, meaning in that time, 50% of the virus particles in an aerosol droplet are inactive. Sixty-six minutes later, 25% are active, and after a total of 3 hours and 18 minutes, it's down to 12.5% active.

The researchers arrived at their findings by employing a device that created an aerosol made of microscopic droplets just like those generated by a cough or sneeze. While that was lab generated, SARS-CoV-2 was not, find scientists whose research was published in Nature Medicine. They analyzed the genome of SARS-CoV-2 that had been made available by Chinese scientists and "firmly determine[d] that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes," says Dr. Kristian Andersen—meaning there is no indication the virus was lab generated or genetically engineered. A press release explains some of the evidence: Were the virus engineered, it would have been "constructed it from the backbone of a virus known to cause illness." SARS-CoV-2's backbone was unlike that of other known coronaviruses but was much like those of viruses found in bats and pangolins. (Read more discoveries stories.)

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