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LifestyleHealthCoronavirus origin linked to China’s Mojiang mines?

Coronavirus origin linked to China’s Mojiang mines?

Published: 9th Aug 2021 12:05 am

Hyderabad: A new analysis on the origin of coronavirus by researchers has indicated that the virus in bats, which eventually became SARS-CoV-2 and caused Covid-19, could have originated from a region of south-central Yunnan in China, where Mojiang mines are located.

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While the mystery of how the virus eventually travelled and caused the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan, which is located about 1,900-km from Yunnan still continues, the new analysis by researchers Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson, who are co-founders of Bioscience Resource Project, strives to identify the exact geographic location where the human SARS-Cov-2 could have first originated.

A south-central Yunnan origin is a highly suggestive finding because at the centre of that region is the Mojiang mine, which is the focus of most lab origin theories. In particular, the Mojiang Miners Passage theory, which posits that SARS-CoV-2 derives from tissue samples taken from miners who were infected in a novel coronavirus outbreak in 2012, specifically predicts that Mojiang was the site where the jump from bats occurred. “For these reasons, this new analysis should transform the origins debate about Covid-19,” Dr Jonathan and Dr Allison in their paper published in Independent Science News said.

To pinpoint the exact geographical location of the origin, the researchers conducted a phylogeographic analysis, of all the wild virus relatives of SARS-CoV-2. The analysis revolves around finding the distribution of genealogical lineages within a species across different geographical locations.

“Analysis revealed that the SARS-CoV-2 related viruses form a coherent group with a geographically ordered genetic structure. Because of this geographic ordering the location from which human SARS-CoV-2 originated, i.e. the locality where its direct ancestor jumped from the bat reservoir, could be identified with high confidence. This location was determined to be a comparatively small region of south-central Yunnan, China,” the study said.

The Mojiang mine was the site, in April 2012 of an apparent coronavirus outbreak, which affected six miners and killed three of them. The mine is also where RaTG13, the closest known natural relative of SARs-CoV-2 was found by Dr Xheng-Li Shi of Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). For these and other reasons, the mine is already the focus of lab origin theories. “It is highly suggestive, to say the least, for this new evidence to point so precisely to this location as the source of the SARS-CoV-2 bat progenitor,” researchers said.

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