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The most politically compromised hypothesis

The mistery of the Mojiang mine

The place where all started? Let’s talk about the mistery of the Mojiang mine. Located in Mojiang, Yunnan province, 1,500 km southwest of Wuhan, the disused copper mine hides in one of the local highlands. This gloomy place now abandoned by humans has become famous in the international news pages subsequently to the death of three miners in 2012. That’s the moment when the mistery of the Mojiang mine starts.

The Mojiang mine

They underwent a severe lethal acute respiratory syndrome (for a total of six sick miners). In an official report published on the publication platform on the academic works of the Chinese university it is said that they “worked on scraping bat guano [excrement remains]”. As assessed in recent times, it is possible to note that these six miners exhibited symptoms strikingly similar to those of Covid-19. However, Serum samples collected by the miners were sent at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and tested by Shi Zhengli and by her group for the Ebola virus, the Nipah virus and for the bat SARSr-CoV Rp3, they were all negative. In a following interview with Scientific American, Directress Zhengli Shi pointed out that a fungus had been responsible for pneumonia in miners. However, no detailed information has been clarified in the literature, and the cause of the miners’ illness has remained a mystery.

A distance of 1800 km separates Wuhan and Mojiang

RaTG13: the missing link

Although the case seemed closed, between 2012 and 2015, Directress Zhengli and her team isolated 293 different coronavirus (284 alphacoronaviruses and 9 betacoronaviruses) from bat stool samples from the cave. One of the samples collected in 2013 from Rhinolophus affinis bat feces was the bat coronavirus RaTG13. Scientists derived the strain name from the original bat species, geographic location and harvest year.

The mistery of the Mojiang mine
Proximality of the viruses

RaTG13 bears a strong resemblance to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (shares 96.1% nucleotide similarity). The difference between RaTG13 and SARS-CoV-2 is in the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein (S), which is specifically the portion that binds to the receptor protein on the surface of the host cell and causes infection, indicating that the RaTG13 virus may not use the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as the site of entry into the cell as does SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, the protein S of the RaTG13 virus lacks the furin cleavage motif RRAR ↓ S.

A revised study on the matter

All these incredible coincidences have led Monali C. Rahalkar and Rahul A. Bahulikar to draw up a large series of questions in one revised study that nowadays remain unfortunately unresolved. Here is the list of their most pressing questions that sooner or later will have to be clarified for the purpose of a series of international investigations:

  • What kind of samples did the WIV receive from the Mojiang miners?
  • Does WIV still have samples?
  • Are they available for study by other researchers?
  • Did researchers isolate the other viruses? They extracted available DNA / RNA from these samples available?
  • Did researchers perform PCR on miner samples and available sequences?
  • Researchers used antigens for the detection of Ab in patients with pneumonia. What it was? what exact protocol they used?
  • Why is this information not available in any of the WIV seroprevalence studies?
  • Why WIV hadn’t mentioned severe pneumonia cases in any of the institute publications before 2020?
  • Did researchers isolate SARS-like CoVs from bat fecal samples collected in 2012-2013?
  • Why WIV hadn’t reported in 2012 the Mojiang miners’ pneumonia cases to any public health agency like the WHO?
  • Why didn’t programs like PREDICT mention fatal pneumonia cases as a mini-epidemic?
  • When did authorities close the mine in Mojiang?
  • Why was the Mojiang mine visited by researchers until October 2014?
  • Why did Directress Shi attribute the outbreak in Mojiang to a fungus?
  • Did researchers take any samples after 2014?
  • Were any of the researchers who visited the Mojiang mine infected with a coronavirus between 2012 and 2019?
  • Are there any SARS-like CoV genome-wide sequences available from this mine?
  • Why the pathogen database associated with the project (2013FY113500) is no longer accessible?

    But the most important question is: Will China ever solve the mistery of the Mojiang mine?

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