Science

Coronavirus: Virology experts find Yan report ‘unethical, misleading’

Mumbai | Updated on October 05, 2020 Published on October 05, 2020

Question claims that the virus was created in a Chinese lab

A new review by Robert Gallo, Takahiko Koyama and Adam Lauring has denounced the earlier study, which was published in The MIT Press Journal Rapid Reviews, claiming that the features of coronavirus suggest sophisticated laboratory modification rather than natural evolution.

The reviewers wrote as cited in the journal EurekAlert!: “The manuscript does not demonstrate sufficient scientific evidence to support its claims.”

According to the recent review, the earlier study — known as Yan report — was posted on a public preprint server without the benefit of peer review. This process minimises the influence of unverified research that is out in the public domain.

The reviewers further wrote: “While pre-print servers offer a mechanism to disseminate world-changing scientific research at unprecedented speed, they are also a forum through which misleading information can instantaneously undermine the international scientific community's credibility, destabilize diplomatic relationships, and compromise global safety.”

When the Yan Report was published in September, MIT’s Rapid Review COVID-19 (RRC19) sought peer reviews from world-renowned virologists, molecular biologists, structural biologists, and computational biologists.

The reviews are in the public domain, along with a response from the RR: C19 Editorial Office, that states: “Collectively, reviewers have debunked the authors' claims that: (1) bat coronaviruses ZC45 or ZXC21 were used as a background strain to engineer SARS-CoV-2, (2) the presence of restriction sites flanking the RBD suggest prior screening for a virus targeting the human ACE2 receptor, and (3) the furin-like cleavage site is unnatural and provides evidence of engineering.”

He added: “In all three cases, the reviewers provide counter-arguments based on peer-reviewed literature and long-established foundational knowledge that directly refute the claims put forth by Yan et al. There was a general consensus that the study's claims were better explained by potential political motivations rather than scientific integrity."

Reviewer Dr. Robert Gallo, biomedical researcher and co-founder of The Institute of Human Virology Evidence Scale Rating, said: Misleading “Widely questionable, spurious, and fraudulent claims are made throughout the paper about the thought-to-be precursor of SARS-2, RaTG13, found in bat caves.”

He added: “The author's attacks include quotes which have not been referenced, including how this 'has been disputed and its truthfulness widely questioned. Soon a paper proving that will be submitted.' She then goes on to attack several genome sequences as fraudulent, ranging from pangolin coronaviruses to bat coronaviruses, again without evidence. The reference she cites for that, in fact, does not make that claim."

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on October 05, 2020
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor