French Nobel Laureate and popular virologist Luc Montagnier has claimed that the coronavirus was manufactured in China’s Wuhan laboratory.

Along with Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Harald Zur Hause, Montagnier won the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine for the discovery of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Montagnier made the revelation during an interview with a French news channel. He said that coronavirus could be a result of an experiment to produce a vaccination against HIV gone wrong.

The French virologist has based his claim on the fact that the coronavirus genomic sequence shows elements of HIV, which makes it suspicious for it to have evolved “naturally.” He further alleged that coronavirus could be a result of an industrial accident that may have taken place at China’s Wuhan lab studying coronaviruses in bats since the 2000s.

However, many experts have dismissed Montagnier’s claim and said that many other organisms have the same so-called “unique” protein sequence insertions and not just HIV. Several studies conducted so far to analyze the genetic make-up of coronavirus has shown that it has a natural origin and is not a man-made entity.

One of the studies conducted by a postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University revealed that the very short sequences studied in coronavirus are very similar to that of HIV. However, studying and comparing small protein segments can often result in false positives and no conclusions can be made on the basis of such data.

The study data has been confirmed by another scientific analysis. To simply put, the small protein segments being compared are not insertions that have been deliberately made but naturally occurring genetic sequences in a variety of organisms, including bacteria and viruses.

Therefore, there is no link between small genomic sequences in SARS-CoV-2 and HIV and therefore, the former is not engineered in a lab.

Although Montagnier has high credentials, his claims are not backed by the scientific data and the suggestions of the researchers across the world. Even though he has earned a Nobel Prize, he is now known to promote several discredited theories.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Test Kit
A medical staff displays a test kit to detect the novel coronavirus at a COVID-19 screening-drive, at the Amsterdam UMC in Amsterdam The Netherlands, on March 24, 2020. ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

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