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Amid the misery of a pandemic that has claimed at least four million lives, the scientific search for its origins has itself become toxic. While it is now hideously ubiquitous, Sars-Cov-2 is still only an 18-month-old disease. And the search for its start was officially set in motion in 2020 by a World Health Organization investigative team. Questions over its conclusions have escalated into a heavily politicised feud. Some research scientists, who have tried to unpick the pandemic’s origins, have been accused of conspiracy and cover-up — based on no evidence. Now, 21 researchers — all seeking to understand how a virus that originated in bats transferred into humans — aim to “set the record straight” by publishing their summary of the scientific evidence about the pandemic’s beginning.

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