JUNE 6, 2021
Documents reviewed by a Pune-based scientist couple are at the centre of the recent controversy over the origin of Covid-19. In an exclusive interaction with India Today/Aaj Tak, the couple revealed what led them to probe the 2012 incident from China that is now being linked to Sars-CoV-2.
According to Dr Monali Rahalkar and Dr Rahul Bahulikar, it was the suffering of people all over the world that prompted them to dig deep into the origins of the novel coronavirus.
“Looking at the suffering, right from the beginning, we were curious and anxious as to how the virus must have originated. Initially, we started finding the close relative or cousin of Sars coronavirus 2, which is RATG13,” said Dr Monali Rahalkar.
Abandoned mine in China’s Mojiang
It was during this search, said the scientists, that they came across documents related to an abandoned copper mine in Mojiang in south China. In 2012, six miners were employed to clean the mineshaft, which was full of bat droppings (guano or bat faeces), according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Bat droppings are crumbly and turn to dust when touched. When someone walks on it, the dried pellets burst and get mixed into the atmosphere around, making the air allergic if inhaled, explained Dr. Rahalkar.
After having worked at the mine, all of the six miners got very ill. They were exhibiting symptoms such as fever, cough and blood clots, all of which are commonly seen in Covid-19 patients. There were also symptoms like fatigue, followed by pneumonia in the lungs.
Dr. Monali Rahalkar said some of the miners even had pulmonary thromboembolism (blockage of an artery in the lungs).
Three of the six miners subsequently died.
Dr. Rahalkar added that the radiological reports of Covid-19 patients around the world are very similar to those of the six miners from Mojiang. The CT scans of the miners had ground-glass opacities which were peripheral and match the characteristics of scans of Covid-19 patients.
Dr. Zhong Nanshan’s thesis
“We also found out that the next cousin of Sars was collected from the Mojiang mine and we had also published a small paper in May 2020 [in this regard],” shared Dr Monali Rahalkar.
It was after we had published the paper that we were contacted by Twitter user ‘TheSeeker’, said Dr. Rahul Bahulikar. The Twitter user had come across similar findings and shared with us a thesis highlighting the symptoms of the six miners from Mojiang, Dr. Bahulikar said.
The medicines administered to the six miners were also similar to the ones being given to Covid-19 patients, stated Dr. Rahalkar. The miners were treated with antiviral antibiotics because there were some secondary infections, including fungal infections, she added.
Dr. Monali Rahalkar and Dr. Rahul Bahulikar also mentioned Dr. Zhong Nanshan, the pulmonologist known as ‘Corona Doctor of China’. After observing the cases of the six miners via video conferencing, Dr Nanshan had concluded that their condition was the result of a viral infection.