In February 2020, a group of researchers from Kusuma School of biological sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, published a paper titled "Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag", which they later were forced to withdraw according to a report in Deccan Herald.
Amid the call for investigation for the lab-leak theory of the Covid-19 virus, the paper has come into the limelight, being the first scientific research in light of lab-made virus theory.
The abstract from the withdrawn paper reads, "We are currently witnessing a major epidemic caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019- nCoV). The evolution of 2019-nCoV remains elusive. We found 4 insertions in the spike glycoprotein (S) which are unique to the 2019-nCoV and are not present in other coronaviruses."
"The finding of 4 unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV, all of which have identity /similarity to amino acid residues in key structural proteins of HIV-1 is unlikely to be fortuitous [accidental] in nature. This work provides yet unknown insights on 2019-nCoV and sheds light on the evolution and pathogenicity of this virus with important implications for diagnosis of this virus. " it further adds.
The withdrawal note on biorxiv.org states that [researchers] "intend to revise it in response to comments received from the research community on their technical approach and their interpretation of the results."
A researcher associated with the paper, PhD scholar at IIT Delhi, Ashutosh Kumar Pandey, tweeted, "If published this will be tight slap on the cartel of Virologists who are hell bent to make this virus natural. SARS-CoV-2 is not natural. We said this in Jan 2020, we are saying it again." mentioning a study by British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr Birger Sørensen.
The United Kingdom(UK) newspaper dailymail obtained the study which claims that Chinese scientists created COVID-19 in a Wuhan lab, then tried to cover their tracks by reverse-engineering versions of the virus to make it look like it evolved naturally from bats.
The paper's authors Dalgleish and Sørensen, said that academics and major journals ignored their study. It has submitted for publication in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery.
Reports have said that Antony Fauci was aware of the Indian research but chose to ignore the findings. He called the results "outlandish".
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