Covid does not originate from a notorious South Chinese bat cave at the center of the ‘lab leak’ theory, a French study has claimed.
The Mojiang Cave has been hailed as a possible birthplace of the virus after it was revealed that six miners were affected by a mysterious flu-like illness in 2012.
Researchers from the now infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) were sent in to investigate at the time and sent bat samples back to the laboratory 1,000 miles away.
One of the viruses they collected is the most closely related to the one causing Covid, and shares nearly 97 percent of its genetic makeup.
Proponents of the laboratory leak theory believe that either the miners were infected with an early version of Covid, or that the pandemic-causing pathogen was the result of experiments on viruses sent back to Wuhan.
But French researchers now say none of them could be true after a retrospective study of the miners’ medical reports at the time.
They said their symptoms were too different to be Covid and questioned why no hospital staff or close contacts from the miners became ill.
They wrote in the study, adding: ‘One must also wonder why a virus that killed more than 4 million and infected more than 200 million in 18 months did not cause any disease for seven years from 2012 to 2019.’
They added that RATG13 – the virus that is very similar to Covid and was found in horseshoe bats in Mojiang – was not capable of infecting humans, and there was no evidence that tampering with it in a laboratory could give it that ability.
However, one of the main researchers behind the latest study had ties to the laboratory in Wuhan, which raised a possible conflict of interest.
Horseshoe bats are known carriers of viruses, and researchers believe they may be the culprit for the pandemic
Researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were the first to link SARS and bats for the first time during a 2004 study after raiding a cave in Yunnan Province (pictured at the time). This cave is not the one in question
WIV is the high-security laboratory that specializes in manipulating dangerous coronavirus in the middle of the alleged cover-up. Pictured: Researchers in the laboratory in February 2017
The six miners struck down with the mystery pneumonia had been sent into the cave in Mojiang to clear bat guano in April 2012. They were between 30 and 63 years old and three died as a result of their infection.
The latest study, led by Roger Frutos, a microbiologist at the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development, said hospital records highlighted ‘major discrepancies’ between their diseases and Covid’s typical symptoms.
WHO starts a new study after the first probe was whitewashed
The World Health Organization will launch a new investigation into the origins of the Covid outbreak and investigate whether the virus came from a Wuhan laboratory.
A new team of experts will be appointed, including experts in biosafety, laboratory safety, genetics and how viruses spread to humans.
They will investigate whether coronavirus leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan in late 2019 – a claim rejected by China, which also wants the WHO to investigate whether the virus originated in another country.
It comes after U.S. President Joe Biden ordered intelligence agencies to investigate the ‘lab leak’ theory.
A WHO spokesman said the new team ‘priority should be data and access in the country where the first reports were identified’.
The previous study recommended that China investigate the earliest suspected coronavirus cases, while the team in its final report claimed that the data provided by the country was insufficient.
But out of the more than 400-page report, only three were assigned to the laboratory leak hypothesis.
The original study was embroiled in controversy because it spearheaded Peter Daszak, who had undisclosed connections to the Wuhan Laboratory.
They pointed out that one of Covid’s symptoms is dry cough, while the miners suffered from a very different kind of cough.
They were found to cough up blood or mucus.
CT scans showed that they also did not have the same scarring in the lungs seen in many hospitalized coronavirus patients.
All miners suffered from swelling of the lymph nodes in the chest or ‘water on the lungs’, symptoms reported in only less than 0.01 percent of Covid patients.
‘We thus reject the Mojiang mine as the origin of SARS-CoV-2,’ the researchers wrote in the newspaper, which was published in the journal Environmental Research.
‘Rejecting the Mojiang mining theory leaves the laboratory leak narrative without any scientific support and simply makes it a meaning-based narrative.’
However, the researchers were accused of not refuting the key claims about the laboratory leak theory.
Professor David Livermore, a microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline: ‘The theory is that this virus [which infected the miners] maybe was the ancestor of SARS-CoV2 … not that it was SARS-CoV2 itself.
‘So some difference in pathology is not unreasonable.’
He said he was still not convinced that the laboratory leak theory was the most likely origin of the virus.
But he admitted that there were some ‘remarkable coincidences’
He added: ‘The pandemic began in Wuhan, which is far from the bats in southern China (and) houses the Virology Institute, which performs molecular work, including functional service, on coronavirus.’
His comments were repeated by Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist from Warwick University, who said it was ‘entirely possible’ that Covid’s origins could be traced back to the caves of Mojiang.
He told MailOnline ‘Although I still believe this is a result of natural release from an animal, a laboratory leak accident still cannot be ruled out.’
Professor Livermore added that the laboratory leak theory had gone from conspiracy to common thought because extensive searches had not found any natural reservoir of SARS-CoV-2.
He said it was also ‘important’ to note that one of the authors of the paper, Christian Devaux, was involved in setting up the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Dr. Devaux’s commitment is listed in the newspaper’s revelations.
WIV specializes in manipulating dangerous coronavirus, in so-called ‘gain of function’ research.
The risky experiments involve constructing viruses to make them more contagious or lethal in hopes of developing treatments and vaccines to get ahead of outbreaks.
But French researchers say RATG13, the pathogen first discovered in horseshoe bats in Mojiang, was probably not used to create Covid.
They said that while genuine, the virus particles were not isolated from animals, meaning researchers have only samples of its genetic code and not physical copies of the virus itself.
‘Therefore, there is no evidence that this sequence corresponds to any real and viable virus, or that all readings come from the same virus,’ they wrote in the study.
‘RATG13 has never been isolated as a virus and replicated in cell cultures. It has no physical existence and therefore cannot leak from a laboratory. ‘
But questions still hang over the Mojiang caves. Attempts by Western journalists to visit the caves have been denied and the caves are being closely monitored by Chinese authorities.