MOSCOW, January 14. /TASS/. Artificial origin of the coronavirus infection is virtually impossible to prove, department head of the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Healthcare Ministry Alexander Butenko said in an interview with the Govorit Moskva radio station on Thursday.
"The WHO (the World Health Organization - TASS) expressed a point of view that it won’t focus attention on an artificial creation of the virus in a laboratory. One shouldn’t expect a conspiracy resolution to such a problem, obviously. It is virtually impossible to prove that [the coronavirus] appeared in a lab, was man-made," he said.
According to the scientist, the infection could have emerged as a result of a recombination of genes of a virus that caused the pandemic of acute pneumonia in 2002-2003 in China’s Guangzhou and a bat coronavirus. "They are very close to each other. In such cases, a recombination between genes occurs, this is one of the mechanisms of viral variability along with mutations. <...> To me this seemed to be the most likely concept," he noted.
According to the latest global statistics, more than 92.3 mln people have been infected worldwide and over 1.9 mln deaths have been reported. To date, 3,495,816 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 2,882,044 patients having recovered from the disease. Russia’s latest data indicates 63,940 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.