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A Chinese mine full of bat droppings, the new theory about the origin of the coronavirus dating back to 2012

The investigation not only questions the origin that we know of the pandemic; also notes that the virus escaped from the Wuhan laboratory

In 2012, six miners from Yunnan, a Chinese province 1,000 miles away from Wuhan, showed symptoms of what we know today as SARS-CoV-2: dry cough, high fever, shortness of breath, muscle pain, and headaches. They had all worked in a mine full of bat droppings and fungi; three of them died.

The doctor treating the miners then wrote a master’s thesis on the case, which has just been translated by scientists who point to that Chinese mine as the possible origin of the coronavirus that dates back to 2012.

The new theory, supported by specialists in molecular biology, genetics and virology, Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson, is based on the thesis written by the Chinese doctor Li Xu entitled “The analysis of six patients with severe pneumonia caused by unknown viruses.”

Until now, the theory of the origin of the pandemic that we live today accepted by the international scientific community dates back to the exotic animal market of Wuhan, after someone consumed an animal that could have been a bat or a pangolin in 2019. But According to Latham and Wilson, the first cases of the virus in humans may have occurred several years earlier.

According to the Latham and Wilson article, posted on the website Independent Science News, workers reportedly fell ill after spending 14 days in the mine cleaning bat feces. The medical treatment they received consisted of steroids, antibiotics, anticoagulants and respiratory aid is similar to that received by millions of COVID-19 patients in the world today.

Faced with the rarity and lethality of the disease, Dr. Li Xu consulted with several medical specialists, including virologist Zhong Nanshan, considered the greatest scientist in China and an expert in SARS. Thus he concluded that the disease may have been caused by a similar virus.

And how did the new virus reach Wuhan, the Chinese province where the first cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the world? The hospital where the miners were treated sent tissue samples from the miners to the laboratory of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, from where the coronavirus would have escaped.

Latham and Wilson wrote in their article that, once having infected the miners, a betacoronavirus known as RaTG13 (or a very similar one) “evolved into SARS-CoV-2, an unusually pathogenic coronavirus highly adapted to humans”. They also note that the miners’ samples were investigated in the Wuhan laboratory, and “it was this human-adapted virus, now known as SARS-CoV-2, that escaped from the WIV (Wuhan Institute of Virology) in 2019“.

While these researchers deny that the new coronavirus is a “engineered” virus, they point out that “had it not been brought to Wuhan and no further molecular research had been conducted or planned, the virus would have been extinct due to natural causes, instead of escaping to start the COVID-19 pandemic. “

Latham and Wilson’s research is already being identified as “the passing of the Mojiang miners,” to describe the adaptation of the virus to a new species, humans. The cell biology expert from New York School of Medicine, Stuart Newman called the Latham and Wilson research “the best explanation yet for the origins of SARS-CoV2.” on your Twitter account. And till George Church, the renowned American geneticist, shared the work of these two scientists.

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson They work for the nonprofit Bioscience Resource Project.