Technology VIDEO. In 2012, a mysterious disease resembling severe pneumonia had already killed in China

VIDEO. In 2012, a mysterious disease resembling severe pneumonia had already killed in China

Could the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic originate not in the Wuhan seafood market, but in the heart of the Yunnan mountains, in southwest China? A tragedy took place there eight years ago. In April 2012, six miners were tasked with cleaning up a disused copper mine with a view to rehabilitating it.

Populated by several colonies of bats, the place is covered with their droppings, and the men spend two weeks cleaning the galleries. A few days later, the six minors are hospitalized urgently. They show all the symptoms of severe pneumonia, some in respiratory distress. Of these six patients, three died a few weeks later. But what did they die of?

The coronavirus identified in 2013 would be more than 96% close to SARS-CoV-2

1,500 kilometers away, one of the three laboratories in the city of Wuhan is studying coronaviruses. Its deputy director, Shi Zhengli, is a world-renowned virologist – so renowned for her work on bat viruses that the scientific community calls her “Batwoman”. She is sent to Yunnan to take samples in the mine. It was there that in 2013, she discovered RaTG13, a new coronavirus hitherto unknown.

This RaTG13 virus will be talked about again in February 2020, in the columns of the prestigious scientific journal Nature. Shi Zhengli then claims to have found in his samples a virus that would be more than 96% close to SARS-CoV-2, the one that is at the origin of Covid-19. The scientific community is wondering: since when was this RaTG13 kept in the Wuhan laboratory? Could he have played a role in the current epidemic?

Why haven’t Chinese researchers mentioned RaTG13 in December 2019?

Why did Shi Zhengli not mention this virus at the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, in December 2019? “There are a lot of things to which we only have partial answers, or even no answers”, notes the virologist Bruno Canard, research director at the CNRS. In any case, according to him, “the researchers should have realized immediately that the 2020 SARS-CoV-2 genetic identity card corresponded to something that had already been described a long time ago. … They should have cited their own. work. They didn’t, when it was one of the first things they should have done. “

Not to mention that the history of the miners of Yunnan contains another disturbing element … In the summer of 2020, questioned by the magazine Scientific American, Shi Zhengli put forward a strange explanation for their illness. She claimed that they had not been infected with a coronavirus, but with a fungus, which would have entered their lungs. A version that leaves many scientists skeptical …

Extract from “Coronavirus: the mystery of the origins”, a report to see in “Special Envoy” on March 11, 2021.

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