Despite a global consensus that the coronavirus pandemic originated from Wuhan, China, experts believe the deadly virus was first seen in 2012 inside a deep Chinese mineshaft where miners came down with a mysterious but similar illness to COVID-19 after they were exposed to bats.
Jonathan Latham, a virologist, and Allison Wilson, a molecular biologist, from Bioscience Resource Project, a non-profit organization in Ithaca, theorized the claim after they successfully translated a 66-page master's thesis that was written by the Chinese medical doctor who treated the mineshaft workers and gathered their tissue samples for testing.
The true origin of the coronavirus?
According to the New York Post, in an article Latham and Wilson wrote and published on July 15, the researchers said the evidence of the incident led them to the conclusion that had them reconsider the origin of the coronavirus pandemic that the world believed. Latham told reporters that COVID-19 "almost certainly escaped" from the Wuhan Lab.
In April 2012, six miners working in the Mojiang mine located in Yunnan province in the southwestern region of China fell ill after trying to remove bat feces for more than 14 days. Later, three of the men succumbed to their conditions and died.
The man who treated the workers, Physician Li Xu, wrote in his thesis that the men suffered similar symptoms to the coronavirus including high fever, dry cough, sore limbs, and in some of them, headache.
The researchers also said that the treatment conducted on the miners were those associated with treatments being given to patients of COVID-19 today, including ventilation and various drugs such as steroids and antibiotics.
The thesis also described how Li conducted multiple tests for hepatitis, dengue fever, and HIV but later discussed with other specialists in China about the symptoms of the men, including Virologist Zhong Nanshan, the man famous for managing the 2003 SARS outbreak who some call the world's greatest scientist.
Li sent multiple samples of the miners' tissues to the Wuhan Lab, where the majority of the world believes that coronavirus originated from. Scientists at the institution discovered the infection was a SARS-like coronavirus found on a Chinese rufous horseshoe bat, as reported by The Sun.
Evolved to infect humans
Latham and Wilson, urged by the findings in the study, theorized that the virus evolved inside the infected miners and adapted to spreading among humans.
However, Chinese officials still believe that the Wuhan wet market is the origin of the global health crisis, where it started to spread in December 2019.
Several experts doubt the origins after officials immediately cleaned up and shut down the region just as the coronavirus began spreading and gaining international attention.
The news also comes as cases of Bubonic Plague, also known as the Black Death, began surfacing in China where recently, the second victim has died. The casualty was a man from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China and suffered multiple organ failures earlier this month. The announcement was made on the website of the Bayannao'er city health commission.
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