Much has been written about the origin of Coronavirus and its journey that culminated in a deadly outbreak that afflicted Wuhan in China and subsequently the world. Now, as per a report in a British newspaper, the virus may have arrived in the Chinese town in 2013 as part of a test sample sent by scientists from a copper mine in another part of the country.
This report says that six men who were clearing bat feces in this mine, located in South West Chinese province of Yunnan, developed a severe form of pneumonia. After three of these unfortunate souls died, frozen samples of the virus responsible for this tragedy were sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab.
Shi Zhengli, the lady dubbed as 'Bat Woman' for her researches in bat-infested caves, and who has immense knowledge of the Coronavirus family, had written in a scientific paper published in February that the micro-organism which has wreaked havoc in the world recently was 96.2% similar to one called RaTG13. Zhengli had also studied that particular cave in Yunnan.
RaTG13, according to The Sunday Times report, is the virus that was found in that mine in 2013 and sent to Wuhan. If true, this means that the micro-organism that has terrorized the world and killed over a million came originally to Wuhan as part of those samples seven years ago.
However, some other scientists and experts feel that the differences between the two micro-organisms can only occur after evolution that needs some decades. In other words, they are countering the Times' claims.
There has been a major controversy over the facts of this virus' spread. Many have blamed the personnel at the Wuhan Institute of Virology for leaking the virus because of carelessness on their part. However, due to the opaque nature of the communist state machinery and the unwillingness of the government to be fully transparent, nothing has been confirmed yet.
The Wuhan lab didn't respond to the questions sent by the newspaper. They did reject the possibility of there being a linkage between RaTG13 and the Coronavirus of today by claiming that they didn't have any living copy of RaTG13. But this new theory will further enrich the debate and shed some light on a subject that hasn't been properly understood for various reasons.