Professor Jesse Bloom found dozens of test samples from the earliest confirmed Covid patients in epicentre Wuhan had been pulled by Chinese scientists from an international database.
Dozens of test samples from patients in epicentre Wuhan were found to have been wiped from an international database used to track the virus' evolution. .
The American professor who spotted their deletion and managed to recover some of the data said they suggested Covid was circulating long before China's official timeline.
He found the early samples of the virus were more evolved than would be expected of a pathogen that had recently jumped from animals to humans — but did not say it gave more weight to the 'lab leak' theory.
Boris Johnson's former chief aide Dominic Cummings said Professor Bloom's find pointed further 'towards' the 'lab leak' theory. .
The samples were published as part of a study into diagnosing Covid patients using PCR tests – just days before the Chinese Government issued an order requiring approval of the publication of all coronavirus data. .
The professor explained scientists can get their genetic samples removed from the NIH's database with relative ease, normally via an email request.
He said that while there were often legitimate and valid reasons for having them deleted, there was no evidence of any in the case of the Wuhan samples.
In a tweet this morning, Boris Johnson's former chief aide Dominic Cummings said Professor Bloom's find pointed further 'towards' the 'lab leak' theory.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology at the centre of the Covid-19 lab leak theory has been nominated for China's top science award for its work during the pandemic.
A description posted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences said it had carried out 'comprehensive' research into Covid that have laid the foundation for scientists around the world to study the virus.
The nomination comes despite growing speculation that the virus did not occur naturally but escaped from the lab located just a few miles away from the Wuhan wet market where the outbreak was first identified. .
In a Twitter thread detailing his findings today, Professor Bloom said: 'Although events that led to emergence of #SARSCoV2 in Wuhan are unclear (zoonosis vs lab accident), everyone agrees deep ancestors are coronaviruses from bats. .
Asked about what the findings reveal about the origins of the virus, Professor Young said: 'It doesn't tell you where the virus came from.'
But he added that it 'raises suspicions' and will fuel the the theory that it might have emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which many have suggested
The study was shared by former No10 aide Mr Cummings today who said evidence was moving 'towards' the China lab leak theory. However, he stressed that the idea was still 'unproven'.
The Prime Minister has said that the government's central theory is that the virus was 'zoonotic' in origin, and jumped to humans from another species
British scientist Peter Daszak has been removed from the COVID commission looking at the origins of the pandemic after helping secretly denounce the lab leak theory while failing to mention his close ties to the same facility
The head of the World Health Organization insisted just a day earlier that the theory that Covid emerged from a Wuhan lab has not been ruled out – as he said China should help solve the mystery out of 'respect' for the dead.
There has been mounting controversy over how the virus first emerged - whether through animal contact at a 'wet' market in Wuhan or leakage from a highly secure research laboratory in the same city as some have suggested.