We still don’t know the origins of the coronavirus. Here are 4 scenarios.

The search continues for the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19—and the pathway that it took to leap from animals to humans, wreaking havoc across the globe, infecting more than 129 million people, and killing more than 2.8 million.

Last week, the World Health Organisation released a report from a team of international researchers that travelled to China to investigate four possible scenarios in which the SARS-CoV-2 virus might have caused the initial outbreak. In the days since, however, world governments have expressed concern that the investigators lacked access to complete data, while scientists say that the report has shed little light on how the virus got jumpstarted.

That’s unsurprising given that it typically takes years to trace a virus back to its roots—if it’s possible at all, says Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Centre for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Centre. But in this case, she says, “I think we do have enough evidence to say that some are more likely than others.”

 

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