1. says

    What a screwball!
    I get the impression he only threw COVID into the title to get media attention.

    “He hasn’t shown it came from outer space”
    I would add he hasn’t shown that it’s even possible for it to come from outer space.

    His graph relating sunspots to epidemics reminds me of the old Niburu theory. Bad things happen as a semiregular pace therefore it must be SPACE!

    Or the data’s messy and sparse and no conclusions should be drawn.

  2. Ed Seedhouse says

    The solar wind is indeed weaker during solar minima, but this allows many more extremely high energy cosmic rays to penetrate to the orbits of the inner planets, energy levels that are extremely damaging to DNA. Fortunately our atmosphere and magnetosphere protect us from most of these participles, but they would not protect DNA in outer space so, logically, there should be fewer events of “panspermia” during solar minima, not more, because their DNA would be slightly more exposed to extremely energetic particles.

  3. PaulBC says

    SARS-CoV-2 is just an ordinary terrestrial virus, but the creatures running the country are either the direct product of extraterrestrial spores or maybe taken over by them in the manner of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

  4. robro says

    robertbaden @ #5

    Earth did pass through the comet’s tail. It’s just the tail is so diffuse it didn’t matter.

    And as it still does…twice every year in fact. These passages do matter, if you’re interested in meteor showers. The Eta Aquarids, which peak in early May, and the Orionids in late October are both the result of Earth passing through the dust left by Hailey’s comet.

  5. nomdeplume says

    This is like Dunning-Kruger super-charged! Astonishingly bad bad science. PZ, you comment about the number of institutions Wickremasinghe has attached to, but if you look at them, they would not, I think, appear on anyone’s list of the top million scientific institutions on the planet. Also a sad reminder, with several Australian co-authors, that Australia, with a proud record in real science, is not immune from the junk science raining down from the sky these days.

  6. wzrd1 says

    @Ed Seedhouse #4, that DNA or RNA would still have to deal with some significant gamma radiation, as well as x-rays, solar EUV, as well as UVC, which oxygen shields us from.

    Still, we came from space, well, our elements did, courtesy of a few supernovas and even some likely neutron star collisions. Life, not so much, as life tends to fare poorly when it lands on a planetary magma ocean.
    As for SARS-CoV-2, if they’re trying to tell us that all coronavirus species came from space, I’ve a fine bridge to sell them – goes straight to Brooklyn.
    Space, the final frontier, with plenty available in between their ears.

    I’m reminded of an Indian scientist, who, in response to ‘red rain’ in Kerala, insisted that the rain was discolored by a magical meteorite, which oddly wasn’t observed burning up in the atmosphere. Loads of hand waving engaged, he claimed that he couldn’t recognize the particulates and hence, from space.
    It was alga spores.

  7. jrkrideau says

    Elsevier has been going down hill for some time and seems to have some real bottom-feeding journals recently. Beall’s List quality.

    “ If is published by Elsevier, don’t trust it’
    I usually do not.

    I just noticed that The Lancet seems to be in the Elsevier stable!

  8. birgerjohansson says

    Actually SARS-CoV-2 came from a parallel universe, seeping through the quantum fuzziness of a fractal dimension.This is also how Ferenghian DNA entered the human species, and the Trump ancestors.

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    I think blf #3 is onto something: Why does Wickramasinge try to claim every virus, fungus, etc. is from outer space? In order to distract us from the truth: that he is an alien lizard-person.

  10. raven says

    In Realityland, we have a good idea of where the Covid-19 virus came from.
    It’s highly homologous to two different animal Coronaviruses, one from bats, one from pangolins.
    It’s a hybrid virus produced by recombination.

    In short, our findings propose that homologous recombination has been occurred between bat and pangolin CoVs that triggered cross-species transmission and emergence of SARS-CoV-2, and, during the ongoing outbreak, SARS-CoV-2 is still evolving for its adaptability.

    Evidence of the Recombinant Origin and Ongoing Mutations in Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
    Jiao-Mei Huang, Syed Sajid Jan, Xiaobin Wei, Yi Wan, View ORCID ProfileSongying Ouyang
    doi: BioRxiv Mar 2020

    The recent global outbreak of viral pneumonia designated as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) by coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has threatened global public health and urged to investigate its source. Whole genome analysis of SARS-CoV-2 revealed ~96% genomic similarity with bat CoV (RaTG13) and clustered together in phylogenetic tree. Furthermore, RaTGl3 also showed 97.43% spike protein similarity with SARS-CoV-2 suggesting that RaTGl3 is the closest strain. However, RBD and key amino acid residues supposed to be crucial for human-to-human and cross-species transmission are homologues between SARS-CoV-2 and pangolin CoVs. These results from our analysis suggest that SARS-CoV-2 is a recombinant virus of bat and pangolin CoVs. Moreover, this study also reports mutations in coding regions of 125 SARS-CoV-2 genomes signifying its aptitude for evolution.

    In short, our findings propose that homologous recombination has been occurred between bat and pangolin CoVs that triggered cross-species transmission and emergence of SARS-CoV-2, and, during the ongoing outbreak, SARS-CoV-2 is still evolving for its adaptability.

  11. René says

    SARS-CoV-2 is still evolving for its adaptability.

    Call me deeply puzzled. Could it have stopped evolving?
    And, isn’t evolution totally unguided towards a goal? I.e., un•te•le•o•log•ic•al?

  12. René says

    I am also in the dark as to adaptability. I would like PZ’s input here: is it a robust idea in Biology? Is it evolvable?
    Pardon any poor phrasing, it’s a quarter to one in the morning here, and I had some.

  13. leerudolph says

    It’s highly homologous to two different animal Coronaviruses, one from bats, one from pangolins.

    So, both bats and pangolins also come from space!

  14. raven says

    Call me deeply puzzled. Could it have stopped evolving?

    Sort of.
    If there are no selection pressures on the virus, it won’t change much.
    Why should it?
    Evolution is natural selection acting on existing variability.
    Organisms can spend lots of their time in a state of stasis, that punctuated equilibrium idea.

    And, isn’t evolution totally unguided towards a goal?

    Evolution is blind and has no purpose or goal.
    But that isn’t the same thing as saying it is unguided.
    It responds to whatever selection pressures are present at the time.

    In the case of Covid-19, it jumped from some mammal species to humans.
    The next step is to adapt to its new host, humans.
    Once it is well adapted, it will probably be static until a new selection pressure arises.
    We can already see where they will come from.
    Antiviral drugs = Resistance to antiviral drugs.
    Vaccines = Resistance to vaccines i.e. antigen escape.

  15. PaulBC says

    leerudolph@20 Close. The pangolins come from pine cones that were hit by cosmic rays… from space!

    And of course SARS-CoV-2 is still evolving, like everything else, but the US is giving it a much larger human population to adapt to than it would otherwise have. I don’t know if it would ever have been possible to eradicate it purely by quarantine measures (though it seems to have worked for the first SARS). But the criminal level of neglect shown in the US (and a few other places like Brazil) have probably guaranteed that our new viral buddy is here to stay for a long time to come.

  16. fergl says

    Wow. Some paper. What struck me reading it was the amount of time and effort put into this. Its all rubbish granted, but presented well. If only all that energy was put into proper research.

  17. wzrd1 says

    @fergl, that’d of course, require even more effort in the form of actual research.
    Far easier to rectally procure a “fact”, aka pull shit out and call it a golden truth, then wax at great length to justify why gold is really brown and smelly, as both are soft, both are gold.
    Therefore, gold can be composted into fertilizer.