THE Covid outbreak started in China in October 2019 – months before Beijing alerted the world – US scientists claim.
Researchers at the Institute for Genomics and Evolutionary Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia also claimed that the virus "definitely" began in China, the Mail on Sunday reported.
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The scientists analysed thousands of samples of Covid patients.
They traced how Sars-Cov-2 – the strain of coronavirus that causes the bug – evolved from a "progenitor" genome.
According to their research, the progenitor dates from mid-October to November 2019.
Sergei Pond, one of the researchers involved in the study, said: "All the genetic evidence makes it clear this virus is from China.
"The pattern of worldwide spread is also consistent with Chinese viruses seeding epidemics in other countries."
The research comes amid fresh accusations of a cover-up by the Chinese government.
Crucial online data related to the lab suspected of being the source of coronavirus was deleted.
Hundreds of pages of information connected to studies carried out by the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology were wiped alongside key data from a top virologist nicknamed "Batwoman".
More than 300 studies published by the National Natural Science Foundation of China – including investigations into diseases that transfer from animals to humans – are no longer available.
The state-run organisation deleted scores of online content, including studies carried out by Wuhan based virologist Shi Zhengli – dubbed "Batwoman".
The 56-year-old earned the nickname for her research gathering samples in bat caves.
The mass removal of the online studies has reaffirmed fears that China is trying to hamper the investigation into the origin of coronavirus.
Data, including the risk of cross-species infection from bats with Sars-like coronaviruses and investigations into human pathogens carried by bats have been wiped – key sources for the inquiry into the origin of coronavirus.
Iain Duncan Smith, former Conservative leader and member of the International Parliamentary Alliance on China said: "China is clearly trying to hide the evidence.
"It is vital that there is a thorough investigation into what happened but China seems to be doing all it can to stop that happening."
Stories regarding the 'cover-up' have continued to swirl in the wake of World Health Organisation investigators being blocked from entering the country.
The extraordinary turn of events sparked international outrage as China was plagued with accusations of fudging numbers of cases and death tolls, as reports of 'whistleblowers' talking to US authorities continue.
Just days before the WHO was alerted to the outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019, the Wuhan Institute of Virology began altering its database of viral pathogens.
Damning leaked files allege China hid its true Covid-19 infection rate to "protect" its image.
The explosive secret data, from China's own health chiefs, appeared to expose a catalogue of cover-ups and blunders which hid the true scale of the killer disease that has since killed more than 1.8 million people.
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