COVID-19 may have first struck eight years ago in a mineshaft in China rather than a wet market in Wuhan last year, scientists have claimed.
In 2012 six people working at the Mojiang mine, in Yunnan province, suffered from a pneumonia-like sickness after completing a job removing bat faeces.
In total three of them died after experiencing a fever, dry cough and other symptoms linked to COVID-19 and were treated in a similar way to those who contracted the virus.
Virologist Jonathan Latham and molecular biologist Allison Wilson studied Chinese doctor Li Xu’s thesis on the incident and now claim it could have been the first occurrence of the infection.
The scientists previously wrote: ‘The evidence it contains has led us to reconsider everything we thought we knew about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.’
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Latham told the New York Post COVID-19 ‘almost certainly escaped’ from a lab in Wuhan.
Samples from the miners had apparently been kept at the lab and scientists found a SARS-like coronavirus linked to a bat caused the virus.
The Chinese have vehemently denied this and say they believe the virus originated in a wet market last December.
Latham and Wilson, who works for the Bioscience Resource Project, added: ‘It implies that the illnesses of the six miners were of high concern and, second, that a SARS-like coronavirus was considered a likely cause.’
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