Covid-19 probably passed to humans from a bat via an intermediary animal, an international expert mission to China has concluded in a report, 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 considered “extremely unlikely”, according to a copy of the long-awaited final report seen by AFP on Monday before its official release.
Drafted by a team of World Health Organization-appointed international experts and their Chinese counterparts, the report has been keenly anticipated since investigators left China more than a month ago.
But it does not offer definitive answers on the mystery at the very heart of the pandemic: how the virus that causes the disease first jumped to humans.
Covid-19 has killed about 2.8 million people worldwide in the 15 months since it emerged, forcing governments around the world to introduce punishing restrictions that have pummelled the global economy.