The Mail on Sunday can reveal that analysis of the coronavirus by specialist biologists suggests that all available data shows it was taken into the market by someone already carrying the disease.

They also say they were ‘surprised’ to find the virus was ‘already pre-adapted to human transmission’, contrasting it to another coronavirus that evolved rapidly as it spread around the planet in a previous epidemic…

The new research is clear in its finding. ‘The publicly available genetic data does not point to cross-species transmission of the virus at the market,’ said Alina Chan, a molecular biologist, and Shing Zhan, an evolutionary biologist. Their paper insists all routes for ‘zoonotic’ (animal to human) transmission – in this case from bats – must be examined. It says: ‘The possibility that a non-genetically engineered precursor could have adapted to humans while being studied in a laboratory should be considered.’