Covid began with Chinese miners in bat caves almost 10 years ago, expert believes

The Mojiang Miners Passage theory holds that SARS-CoV-2 came from tissue samples taken from miners who worked in a bat-infested cave in 2012

Medical staff arrive at Wuhan’s Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan with a patient (

Image: AFP via Getty Images)

The coronavirus could have come from workers who worked in a Chinese mine nearly a decade before the pandemic began, a US expert claimed.

Dr. Jonathan Latham, executive director of the US Bioscience Resource Project, believes Covid-19 may have developed in the bodies of infected workers who work in the Mojiang mines in southern Yunnan, China.

In April 2012, six miners with coronavirus-like systems were hospitalized after working in a bat-infested cave. Three eventually died.

According to Dr. Latham may have developed the virus that eventually became SARS-CoV-2 and caused Covid-19 in the bodies of these miners before it escaped into the population, through samples of the disease sent to researchers in Wuhan.

The appearance of the alpha variant in Kent last year in a single immunocompromised patient is proof that the virus can make “strange evolutionary leaps” if it has been stuck in an individual for a long time.

A worker stands next to a cage containing mice in the P4 laboratory in Wuhan


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In a webinar by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Dr. Latham: “The theory requires many hundreds of mutations in a miner to turn into Sars-Cov-2. Decades were crammed into about six months.

“But we have heard of the surprising phenomenon of isolated cases of strongly accelerated evolution in viruses in the UK. There have been as many evolutions in this one individual in England as there have been millions of other infections.

“Our theory suggests that a similar development occurred in miners’ lungs after the mysterious illness in 2012, arguing that the virus leaked from a medical sample taken from miners infected by the outbreak.”

About 1,500 kilometers from Wuhan, the Mojiang mines are home to several of the laboratory theories of origin around Covid-19.

As early as 2012, the workers fell ill after removing bat droppings from a copper joint and were admitted to a hospital in the provincial capital of Kunming with persistent cough, fever, headache, chest pain and breathing difficulties.

According to Dr. Latham, the virus that eventually caused Covid-19 may have developed in the bodies of miners before it escaped into the population


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The medical records at the time revealed that the six workers, aged between 30 and 63, were victims of a “SARS-like” coronavirus infected by horseshoe bats. Reuters reports.

When scientists returned to the mine in late 2012, they found samples of a pathogen known as the “Mojiang virus”.

The Mojiang virus is found in rats and is not related to SARS-CoV-2, and it has not been confirmed whether it is behind the miners’ disease.

Since then, China’s leading bat coronavirus researcher, Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), said the workers’ pneumonia-like symptoms were caused by a fungal infection and there were no signs of SARS-CoV infection. give -2.

The P4 laboratory of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in the central Chinese province of Hubei


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But the miners’ case was used by those advocating the idea that a coronavirus very similar to SARS-CoV-2 could have infected people as early as 2012.

First identified in 2016, a virus called RaTG13 was discovered from the anus of a horseshoe bat in the same caves. According to a paper by Shi and other researchers, RaTG13 shares 96.2% of its genome with SARS-CoV-2, but must have diverged 40 years earlier.

The new theory from Dr. Latham suggests that a virus like RaTG13 could have developed much faster in a miner’s body.

Dr. Latham said, “We know that coronaviruses were diverse and abundant near the mine, and we know that some of the miners have suffered lengthy hospitalizations.

“Her treatment lasted six months and enabled the development of novel customized human coronaviruses.

Researchers at the P4 laboratory in Wuhan have been studying viruses that live in bats for decades


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“We know that many medical samples have been sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. So the question is what was in the samples and what was done with the viruses found? “

China and WIV have vigorously denied allegations that the coronavirus escaped a Wuhan laboratory, but Alison Young, the Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting at the Missouri School of Journalism, said laboratory leaks of dangerous viruses had spread around the world . the Telegraph reports.

She said, “Laboratory accidents are not uncommon. In the US, there were 134 reported cases of laboratory exposure to viruses, bacteria, and toxins in 2020 that are regulated by the US government.

“Laboratory accidents and exposures happen frequently.”

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