An astonishing report published in the Sunday Times claimed that the virus samples sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2013 bore a stark resemblance with the novel coronavirus. The report claimed that scientists in 2013 had sent frozen samples of the virus which was almost identical to the Coronavirus to the Wuhan lab after six men who had been clearing out the bat faeces in a former copper-mine in southwest China contracted severe pneumonia.
Three of the six men died of their ailment, most likely due to the coronavirus transmitted from a bat, the report said, quoting a medical practitioner whose supervisor was deputed to the emergency department that treated the men.
The concerned mine in Yunnan province was later on studied by Shi Zhengli, a specialist authority on SARS-like coronaviruses of bat origins at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Shi, who has earned the sobriquet of “batwoman” for her dangerous expeditions in bat caves, described coronavirus in February 2020 as “almost certainly” the virus that was found in the abandoned mines in Yunnan that claimed the lives of 3 men in 2013. She said that the virus was 96.2 per cent similar to the coronavirus sample named RaTG13 obtained in Yunnan in 2013.
However, scientists having views at odds with China’s “Batwoman” claimed that the samples may represent decades worth of evolutionary distance. The Sunday Times also sent a list of questions to the Wuhan Lab but they did not elicit any response from the Institute.
A couple of months ago, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology dismissed the rumours that the coronavirus emerged from the Wuhan Lab saying that there was no live copy of the RaTG13 virus in the laboratory, making it impossible to leak from it. So far, there has been no compelling evidence to tie the source of the pandemic to Wuhan Institute of Virology, however, it is widely believed and backed by reports that the deadly contagion first surfaced in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, possibly from the wet markets operational in the city where live wildlife was on sale.