In a thought-provoking video, Professor Takayuki Miyazawa, a distinguished virologist from Kyoto University, stands amidst the bustling streets of Japan, aiming to capture the attention of passersby. Known for his advocacy of vaccines and efforts to curb coronavirus transmission, Professor Miyazawa’s recent warning has garnered over 8 million views on X, as of the time of this writing.
Having authored over 250 academic papers in virology, disease, veterinary medicine, and microbial ecology, Professor Miyazawa’s latest research has stirred global interest and spurred him into action, even if it means challenging his position at the esteemed Kyoto University.
The emergence and swift dominance of the Omicron variant of SARAS-CoV-2 in November 2021 left researchers and virologists worldwide perplexed. Its divergence from other lineages was stark and unexplained. This anomaly led Japanese professors Miyazawa and Tanaka to embark on a year-long investigation.
Their groundbreaking study, titled “Unnatural Evolutionary Processes of SARS-CoV-2 Variants and Possibility of Deliberate Natural Selection,” published in September 2023, presented potentially paradigm-shifting evidence. By employing the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST), the researchers examined nearly 400 Omicron-related variants, identifying commonalities in protein and nucleotide sequences, unraveling the order of mutations that led to their formation.
Their findings suggested that the formation of segments in Omicron isolates BA.1, BA.1.1, and BA.2 did not align with typical genome evolution. The conclusion was unequivocal:
This study highlights that SARS-CoV-2 has undergone mutations beyond the scope of conventional coronavirus mutation mechanisms, and we hope the potential of artificial creation is included in earnest discussions about the formation of SARS-CoV-2 variants.”
The graphical representation of the variants revealed a systematic and step-wise progression—a departure from nature’s random mutation pattern. What professors Miyazawa and Tanaka uncovered was a pattern of mutations being deactivated and reactivated, akin to a researcher’s deliberate testing of a virus’s components.
In natural evolution, viruses undergo two types of mutations: synonymous, silent changes, and non-synonymous alterations that can affect a virus’s function. Typically, the ratio of synonymous mutations outweighs non-synonymous ones. However, in the case of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the researchers observed a significant shift:
Regarding genetic variation in the S protein of these variants, most mutations were non-synonymous… There were no synonymous mutations in the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Mu variants, but only one each in the Lambda and Omicron variants.”
Although the paper awaits peer review, its delay is not reflective of the research’s quality. The authors, in an exclusive interview with The HighWire, revealed their correspondence with a journal, citing concerns over potentially inflammatory language. The authors have opted not to alter the text, hindering the manuscript’s progress.
The fate of this revelatory research and the impassioned plea of one of its authors remains uncertain. Yet in a world where the origins of the virus remain enigmatic to many in the medical and research communities, the compelling evolutionary data presented by these Japanese researchers should ignite further investigation and substantial discourse on the plausible existence of a lab-engineered variant.