Covid-19 Virus Origin: The Mojiang Miners

Updated: December 2020; Published: July 2020;
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Virologist Jonathan Latham and geneticist Allison Wilson have proposed a new hypothesis for the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has been known since February that a bat virus called RaTG13, collected by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in 2013, is the closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2.

It has been known since May (to some) that RaTG13, previously known as BtCoV/4991, was found in bat feces in a mineshaft near Mojiang in southwest China, after six miners fell ill with Covid19-like pneumonia and three of them eventually died.

The WIV itself didn’t disclose this link, however. On the contrary, in a March 2020 interview the famous WIV “bat woman” Shi Zhengli falsely claimed “a fungus” had caused the miners’ illness.

It is also known that RaTG13, despite its 96% similarity, cannot be the direct ancestor of SARS-CoV-2, as natural mutations in the environment would have taken at least several decades. But it has been shown computationally that RaTG13 can already infect human lung cells to some extent.

Finally, it is known that the sick Mojiang miners, exhibiting severe Covid19-like pneumonia, were hospitalized for up to four months before being either discharged or dying back in 2012.

Latham and Wilson now propose that the Mojiang miners were originally infected by RaTG13 and/or similar coronaviruses during their up to two week stay in the mineshaft inhaling aerosols from bat feces. RaTG13 then turned into SARS-CoV-2 (or a precursor virus) through mutations and/or recombinations in the lungs of the miners during their up to four month stay in the hospital.

Thus the infected lungs of the miners may have served as a ‘human incubator’ enabling RaTG13 to adapt to both the human ACE2 cell receptor and the human immune system in just four months instead of several decades as would have been expected in a natural (animal) environment.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2012/2013 received tissue and blood samples of the surviving or dead miners that may already have included SARS-CoV-2 (or a precursor). WIV virologists may then have been waiting five more years, until the completion of their BSL-4 (high security) lab in 2017/2018, before beginning to do research on what is now known as SARS-CoV-2.

SARS-CoV-2 may then have escaped, in autumn 2019, from the WIV lab, perhaps through an infected lab worker or animal cadaver, initiating what is now a global coronavirus pandemic.

This, in short, is the Latham-Wilson Mojiang Miners Passage (MMP) hypothesis. It can explain most or all of the unusual properties of SARS-CoV-2, including its very strong binding to human ACE2 cell receptors and its rather low mutation rate, even without having to assume “gain of function” research (i.e. genetic engineering) — although the hypothesis doesn’t exclude this, either.

Archive entries show that the origin of RaTG13 in a Chinese database was changed from “lung fluid” (from the miners) to “bat feces” in July 2020 without any explanation. In addition, the WIV claimed that the RaTG13 sample had “disintegrated” during analyses in early 2020 and was no longer available (and thus no longer verifiable). In autumn 2019, the WIV moreover deleted a genetic database containing information on cross-species bat coronaviruses.

In addition to the WIV, the US military, the US CDC and US universities also did research on SARS-like bat coronaviruses. In 2014, some of the US research was halted and moved to China. A US NGO called “Eco Health Alliance” worked both with the US military and with the Chinese WIV, collecting and investigating SARS-like bat coronaviruses to “prevent the next pandemic”.

Updates (December 2020)

  • According to a leaked Chinese investigation report, the first suspected covid-19 patients were admitted to Wuhan hospitals already in early October of 2019. This coincides with a preceding inspection and review of virus samples at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in September 2019. On 12 September 2019, the WIV deleted its cross-species viral pathogen database.
  • Researcher Gilles Demaneuf described in detail three SARS-1 lab escapes from Chinese and Taiwanese P3 and P4 high-security labs. Lab escapes happened in other countries, too.
  • The Lancet Covid-19 Commission chose Peter Daszak to lead the SARS-2 virus origin investigation. Daszak is the president of “Eco Health Alliance”, a US Pentagon contractor which collaborated with the WIV on SARS virus research. Although clearly not impartial, Daszak is also a member of the WHO virus origin investigation team.
  • A FOIA request revealed that early scientific letters claiming that a lab origin of SARS-2 was “impossible” were in fact coordinated behind the scenes by EHA president Peter Daszak.
  • Another FOIA request revealed that leading virologists like Ralph Baric were well aware that a lab escape is a very real possibility, but didn’t want to discuss this publicly. In a later interview Baric admitted: “You can engineer a virus without leaving any trace. However, the answers you are looking for can only be found in the archives of the Wuhan laboratory.”
  • In December 2020, a group of BBC journalists tried to visit the Mojiang mine area in China’s south-western province of Yunnan, but was blocked by Chinese police and security forces.

Read the full article by Latham and Wilson:

A Proposed Origin for SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 Pandemic (ISN, July 15, 2020)

See also:

  1. Seven year coronavirus trail from mine deaths to a Wuhan lab (London Times, July 2020)
  2. Dr. Fauci Backed Controversial Wuhan Lab with U.S. Dollars for Risky Coronavirus Research (Newsweek, April 2020)
  3. How China’s ‘Bat Woman’ Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus (Scientific American, March 2020)
  4. An early article from 2014: A New Killer Virus in China? (Science Magazine, March 2014)
  5. Pentagon biolab discovered MERS and SARS-like coronaviruses in bats (Arms Watch, April 2020)
  6. Did a Review of Samples Collected from a Mineshaft Cause the COVID-19 Pandemic? (Zenodo, July 2020)
  7. Lethal Pneumonia Cases in Mojiang miners (2012) and the mine could provide important clues to the origin of SARS-CoV-2 (Frontiers in Public Health, October 2020)
The WIV in Wuhan

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