Claim by Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier that the novel coronavirus is man-made and contains hereditary material from HIV is unreliable

Claim by Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier that the novel coronavirus is man-made and contains hereditary material from HIV is unreliable


” this coronavirus genome contained sequences of another infection […] the HIV virus (HELP infection)”.


Incorrect: Genomic analyses indicate that the infection has a natural origin, and was not crafted. The so-called “special” protein sequence insertions discovered in the 2019 novel coronavirus can be found in many other organisms, not simply HIV.



The so-called “HIV insertions” recognized by the authors are in reality gene sequences that can likewise be discovered in lots of other organisms besides HIV.

FULL CLAIM: “this coronavirus genome consisted of sequences of another infection […] the HIV infection (HELP infection)”.


Numerous articles published in April 2020 report that Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier claimed that “SARS-CoV-2 is a manipulated infection that was unintentionally released from a lab in Wuhan, China” which “Indian researchers have currently tried to release the results of the analyses that revealed that this coronavirus genome consisted of series of another virus […] the HIV infection (AIDS infection).” The claim that SARS-CoV-2 includes “HIV insertions” started flowing in January 2020, and was propagated by outlets such as Absolutely no Hedge and Infowars. Health Feedback covered this claim in early February 2020, and discovered it to be incorrect.

Firstly, genomic analysis of the novel coronavirus, released in Nature Medication, has actually demonstrated that the virus is not the product of bioengineering, however is rather of natural origin[1]

After the 2003-2005 SARS break out, scientists recognized a set of crucial amino acids within the S protein which give SARS-CoV-1 a super-affinity for the ACE2 target receptor situated on the surface area of human cells[2,3] This finding recommends that SARS-CoV-2 progressed individually and undermines the claim that it was manmade[1]

Secondly, the claim that SARS-CoV-2 consists of HIV insertions is based on a preprint of a research study published to bioRxiv on 2 February 2020.

The work was swiftly slammed by professionals. In this Forbes article, Arinjay Banerjee, a postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University who has actually studied coronaviruses, said that:

The authors compared very brief areas of proteins in the unique coronavirus and concluded that the small sectors of proteins were similar to sections in HIV proteins. Comparing really brief sectors can frequently produce incorrect positives and it is challenging to make these conclusions using little protein sectors.

Researchers also took to Twitter to demonstrate this issue first-hand. Trevor Bedford, a faculty member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Proving ground who studies viral advancement, re-analyzed the gene and protein sequences used by the authors and found that the so-called “special” inserts appeared in numerous other organisms, including Cryptosporidium and Plasmodium malariae, which trigger cryptosporidiosis and malaria, respectively.

Assistant professor at Stanford University Silvana Konermann also examined the authors’ findings and pertained to the very same conclusion, calling the resemblance “spurious”.

This has actually also been separately verified in another released analysis[5]

In summary, genomic analysis of the infection shows that it does not contain so-called “HIV insertions” and that it was not crafted in a laboratory. Proof points to the virus having a natural origin.

The only thing accurate about these posts is that Nobel Prize winner and virologist Luc Montagnier did in truth make these claims. And in spite of having won the Nobel Reward in Physiology or Medicine in 2008 for his co-discovery of the link in between HIV and HELP, Montagnier now promotes commonly discredited theories such as the pseudoscience of homeopathy and that autism is caused by bacteria that give off electro-magnetic waves.


[These comments come from an evaluation of a related claim.]
Aaron T. Irving, Senior Research Fellow, Duke-NUS Medical School:
The region highlighted in the pre-print is indeed an insertion in nCoV-2019 relative to its bat ancestors and indeed it has high identity to the HIV gp120/ gag. The authors picked to align only this small area and not do a fundamental check on whether there were other series which were also homologous (showing high degree of similarity/identity).


The author of this article by European Researcher also compared the genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 and HIV using the Basic Local Alignment Browse Tool (BLAST), developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and discovered “no substantial resemblance”, discussing that “In plain English, SARS-CoV-2 is not made of the bat coronavirus and small bits of the HIV infection.” Readers who wish to validate the level of sequence identity in between the 2 viruses on their own are welcome to follow the steps listed in the article.


  • 1– Andersen et al. (2020) The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nature Medication.
  • 2– Wan et al. (2020) Receptor Recognition by the Unique Coronavirus from Wuhan: an Analysis Based Upon Decade-Long Structural Research Studies of SARS Coronavirus. Journal of Virology.
  • 3– Wu et al. (2012) Systems of Host Receptor Adjustment by Extreme Severe Breathing Syndrome Coronavirus. Journal of Biological Chemistry.
  • 4– Wrapp et al. (2020) Cryo-EM structure of the 2019- nCoV spike in the prefusion conformation. Science.
  • 5– Xiao et al. (2020) HIV-1 Did Not Contribute to the 2019- nCoV Genome. Emerging Microorganisms and Infections.

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