Coronavirus: Thread

Peter Fairbrother peter at
Wed Oct 28 04:05:15 PDT 2020

On 27/10/2020 08:00, jamesd at wrote:
> On 2020-10-27 14:28, jim bell wrote:
>>   On Monday, October 26, 2020, 03:25:41 AM PDT, grarpamp <grarpamp at> wrote:
>> Full disclosure:  While I consider myself conversant with many sciences and technologies, 'biology' is probably my area of least knowledge.
>> I rapidly skimmed this article, but was doubtful when I saw this:
>>> "RaTG13 looks like a “close cousin” of the Wuhan coronavirus – the two are 96% identical throughout the whole sequence of the viral genome. If RaTG13 is a nature-borne virus, one can comfortably conclude that the Wuhan coronavirus must very likely also come from nature and must share a recent common ancestor with RaTG13."
> Nuts.
> We are far more closely related to a chimp, than the Wu Flu is related
> to RTG13 >
> four percent difference is a huge difference.

For primates, yes 4% difference is huge - it would take a few million 
years of evolution to change 4% of a primate's DNA.

For viruses, it's actually very close; in about 50 years of normal 
evolution a virus like SARS will usually change 4% of it's RNA.

Note that a many of the mutations in a coronavirus's RNA do not change 
the expressed proteins - different sequences will code for exactly the 
same proteins.

Random changes of up to a percent or so in viral DNA may not change the 
viral proteins significantly or at all, whereas a random change of 1% in 
human DNA would be universally fatal.

Consequently the human germline mutation rate has to be kept very low by 
repair mechanisms etc, approximately 5×10^-10 per basepair per year.

For coronaviruses the mutation rate is about 8x10^-4 per basepair per 
year, or 16 million times faster.

> Wu Flu is mostly bat virus with a little bit of Aids virus, 

That theory had people going for a bit but it turns out it's bollocks. 
There is no HIV-specific RNA in SARS-CoV2, never mind the four sequences 

Two of the claimed insertions are actually different to the claimed 
HIV-1 sequences and span different proteins, so they are just chance 

The other two insertions code sequences of iirc six and seven amino 
acids in a row which are also found in a row in a part of an AIDS 
protein, but a) 6 or 7 identical amino acids is so small matches 
frequently happen by chance and b) the identical amino acid sequences 
also occur in dozens of proteins from other viruses, there is nothing 
HIV-specific about them.

The paper was never peer-reviewed, and is now withdrawn - nothing to see 

Peter Fairbrother

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