Lethal Pneumonia Cases in Mojiang Miners (2012) and the Mineshaft Could Provide Important Clues to the Origin of SARS-CoV-2

The study titled “Lethal Pneumonia Cases in Mojiang Miners (2012) and the Mineshaft Could Provide Important Clues to the Origin of SARS-CoV-2,” authored by Monali C. Rahalkar and Rahul A. Bahulikar, and published in Frontiers in Public Health on October 20, 2020, explores a significant incident that might provide insights into the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

Here’s a detailed summary:

Study Overview:

  • The study examines a peculiar case of lethal pneumonia in miners from Mojiang, China, in 2012.
  • It investigates the potential connection between this case and the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.


  • In 2012, six miners in Mojiang were hospitalized with severe pneumonia after cleaning bat feces in a copper mineshaft. Three of the miners died.
  • The symptoms and the treatments of these miners showed remarkable similarities to COVID-19.

Key Findings:

  1. Symptoms and Treatments: The miners exhibited symptoms like cough, fever, dyspnea, and radiological features similar to COVID-19. Treatments included antivirals, steroids, and mechanical ventilation.
  2. Investigation into the Cause:
    • Initial hypotheses suggested a fungal infection, but this was later questioned.
    • A Master’s thesis by Li Xu and a Ph.D. thesis by Canping Huang provided detailed accounts of the miners’ illness, treatments, and outcomes.
    • Elevated Serum Amyloid A (SAA) levels and decreased lymphocyte counts indicated viral infection.
  3. Connection to Bats and SARS-CoV-2:
    • Horseshoe bats in the mineshaft were identified as a potential source of the virus.
    • RaTG13, a virus closely related to SARS-CoV-2, was later found in the same mineshaft.
  4. Retrospective Analysis:
    • The study compares the miners’ cases with COVID-19, noting similarities in radiological findings, laboratory results, and complications.
    • It suggests that the miners’ illness might have been due to a virus genetically similar to SARS-CoV-2.
  5. Questions Raised:
    • The study raises several questions regarding the handling and reporting of the incident, the closure of the mineshaft, and the research conducted thereafter.
    • It calls for further inquiry and access to data for a comprehensive understanding of the incident.


  • The study concludes that the Mojiang miners’ cases could provide significant clues to the origin of SARS-CoV-2.
  • It emphasizes the need for thorough investigation and transparency in the sharing of data related to such incidents.

This research presents a compelling case for examining historical outbreaks and their potential links to current pandemics, highlighting the importance of early detection and response to emerging infectious diseases.

Read More: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2020.581569/full

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