Bioinformatic analysis indicates that SARS-CoV-2 is unrelated to known artificial coronaviruses

T. Dallavilla, M. Bertelli, A. Morresi, V. Bushati, L. Stuppia, T. Beccari, P. Chiurazzi, G. Marceddu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for the present coronavirus pandemic and some suggestions were made about its possible artificial origin. We, therefore, compared SARS-CoV-2 with such known viruses that were prepared in the laboratory and other relevant natural strains to estimate their genetic relatedness. MATERIALS AND METHODS: BLAST and clustalW were used to identify and align viral sequences of SARS-CoV-2 to other animal coronaviruses (human, bat, mouse, pangolin) and related artificial constructs. Phylogenetics trees were then prepared using iTOL. RESULTS: Our study supports the notion that known artificial coronaviruses, including the chimeric SL-SHC014-MA15 synthesized in 2015, differ too much from SARS-CoV-2 to hypothesize an artificial origin of the latter. On the contrary, our data support the natural origin of the COVID-19 virus, likely derived from bats, possibly transferred to pangolins, before spreading to man. CONCLUSIONS: Speculations about the artificial origin of SARS-CoV-2 are most likely unfounded. On the contrary, when carefully handled, engineered organisms provide a unique opportunity to study biological systems in a controlled fashion. Biotechnology is a powerful tool to advance medical research and should not be abandoned because of irrational fears.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4558-4564
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Biotechnology
  • Chimeric virus
  • CoViD-19
  • SARS
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • SLSHC014-MA15

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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