An international expert mission to Wuhan concluded in a report seen Monday that Covid-19 likely first passed to humans from a bat through an intermediary animal, with investigators all but ruling out a laboratory leak.
The intermediate host hypothesis was deemed “likely to very likely”, while the theory that the virus escaped from a lab was seen as “extremely unlikely”, according to a copy of the long-awaited final report obtained by AFP before its official release.
The report, drafted by a team of international experts appointed by the World Health Organisation and their Chinese counterparts, comes as dramatic infection spikes in Europe have forced a tightening of unpopular restrictions across the continent.
In sharp contrast, people in England were set for what newspapers dubbed “Happy Monday”, with stay-at-home orders relaxed as rapid vaccinations appeared to drive down infection rates there.
But as countries rush to vaccinate and stem the spread of Covid-19, the mystery at the very heart of the pandemic — how the virus that causes the disease first jumped to humans — remains unsolved.