Chinese scientist Li-Meng Yan recently published a paper claiming SARS-COV-2 was engineered in a Wuhan lab and released intentionally. Several other papers have emerged on the origin of the novel coronavirus, with some claiming the origin was natural. Online rebuttals to Yan’s work have also come out, including one recently featured in The Federalist, which took a skeptical tone to Yan’s claims.
If we want to engineer a virus, we manipulate the biological sequence. A sequence means the order in which the basic biological “letters” occur, and this order determines the function or purpose of the sequence, just as the meaning of words is based on the order of letters.
DNA and RNA are the code that produces proteins, which are more like a paragraph’s worth of letters, and we don’t understand this code well enough to make something from scratch. To engineer, we must either copy something that is already in nature by recombining it or making a recombinant