The coronavirus may not have originated at a Wuhan wet market last year but 1,000 miles away in 2012 — deep in a Chinese mineshaft where workers came down with a mysterious, pneumonia-like illness after being exposed to bats.
Virologist Jonathan Latham and molecular biologist Allison Wilson, both of the non-profit Bioscience Resource Project in Ithaca, arrived at their finding after translating a 66-page master’s thesis from the Chinese medical doctor who treated the miners and sent their tissue samples to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for testing.
“The evidence it contains has led us to reconsider everything we thought we knew about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Latham and Wilson wrote in an article published July 15 on their website, “Independent Science News.”
Latham told The Post that the coronavirus “almost certainly escaped” from the Wuhan lab.
In April 2012, six miners in the Mojiang mine in southwestern China’s Yunnan province fell ill after spending more than 14 days removing bat feces. Three eventually died.
In his thesis, the physician Li Xu, who treated the miners, describes how the patients had a high fever, a dry cough, sore limbs and, in some cases, headaches — all symptoms now associated with COVID-19, said Latham and Wilson.
How the miners were treated — for example, with ventilation and a variety of drugs including steroids, blood thinners and antibiotics — also resembles how COVID-19 patients are being treated worldwide, they said.