Will he remove some of the mysteries?
The eagerly awaited report of the fact-finding mission of scientists commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) to elucidate the origins of SARS-CoV-2 has not yet been made public.
But two news agencies, Associated Press and AFP, unveil a copy on Monday that they have obtained.
AP cautiously indicates that it cannot guarantee that there will be no more changes, while AFP speaks of a "final version".
The ten experts visited China in late January and early February.
Their mission consisted in particular of going to the various places where the first cases of Covid-19 appeared.
More than a month later, their conclusions match the evidence presented at a press conference on February 9, but they are far from shedding light.
Transmission to humans by an intermediate animal, "probable to very probable" hypothesis
According to the preferred track, the animal at the origin of the spread of the virus is the bat.
However, "the evolutionary distance between the viruses found in bats and SARS-CoV-2 is estimated at several decades, which suggests a missing link," say the experts.
They listed four possible scenarios for how the virus got to humans.
That of transmission by a second animal, called an “intermediate animal”, is qualified as “probable to very probable”.
This is also the path favored for a long time by the scientific community.
If the pangolin has long been the number 1 accused, this is no longer the case since several works seem to clear it.
Mink and cats, among others, are now also mentioned.
Where does Covid-19 really come from?
The origin of the virus and its mysteries
As for transmission by frozen meat, a path favored by Beijing, it is considered "possible".
"There is evidence of a possible reintroduction of SARS-CoV-2 through the handling of contaminated frozen products imported into China since the initial pandemic wave," according to these scientists.
But they find it hard to believe with regard to the origin of the pandemic, at the end of 2019, that is to say at a period "when the virus was not widely circulating".
Doubts about the role of the Wuhan market
The first officially recorded cases, in December 201,9 were linked to this market of seafood and other mammals.
But "no definitive conclusion about the role of the Huanan market in causing the outbreak, or how the infection was introduced to the market, can currently be drawn," the report said.
The discovery of other cases before this epidemic phase suggests that it may have started elsewhere.
"In view of the literature on the role of farm animals as intermediate hosts for emerging diseases, there is a need for further surveys including a greater geographic extent" in China and elsewhere, write the missioned experts. by WHO.
The leak of a laboratory, an "extremely improbable" track
The hypothesis was officially put forward by Donald Trump's administration, but scientists refute it.
A laboratory leak remains "extremely unlikely", they indicate in their conclusions.
French and foreign researchers, even if they felt that this was not the most likely lead, have been calling for several not to exclude it definitively.
Morning essentials newsletter
A tour of the news to start the day
Subscribe to the newsletterAll newsletters
Origin of Covid-19: WHO leaves China without certainty
The Wuhan P4 laboratory is suspected by some of having been used for experiments on very dangerous pathogens which could have led to such an accident.
On the other hand, the hypothesis of a deliberately manufactured virus has never convinced the scientific community.
It was not even studied by the WHO fact-finding mission.
A lack of independence?
The leakage of these conclusions will not solve the lack of transparency of which this expertise is accused.
Several of the researchers who carried it out are Chinese and their independence from Beijing has been questioned by some.
The regime also seemed very reluctant to let these specialists go to China to investigate and then facilitate their access once there.
“We came to the conclusion that the joint team did not have the mandate, independence or access necessary to be able to conduct a full and unrestricted investigation into all hypotheses regarding the origin of SARS-CoV-2, whether it is a zoonotic event or an accident linked to a research laboratory, ”write about thirty scientists, including several French, in an article published on March 4 in the Wall Street Journal.
The report must also be validated by China before being adopted.
Its official publication is expected "in the coming days" or "in the coming weeks," WHO said throughout March.