Not only has there been no evidence to support claims Covid-19 is caused by a new man-made coronavirus that leaked from a government laboratory in Wuhan, but also studies have raised questions about the belief a Wuhan seafood market that traded wild animals was ground zero for the infection. Investigations linked 27 of the 41 early cases of the disease to the market. But epidemiologists found only traces of the virus in samples from the market, according to Chinese government expert adviser Zhong Nanshan. He also said the first known case in Wuhan, as well as most of the 1,099 patients in a study conducted in the city, had no links at all to the market. This has emerged in an exclusive Post report that underlines concerns politics could stall global scientific cooperation in probing the origins of the infection. Grounds for concern are to be found in the Trump administration’s ending of funding for an American scientist who collaborates with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Zhong says scientists need to team up to establish where the new coronavirus came from. He has been associated for 17 years with US epidemiologist Ian Lipkin, who has been working with Lu Jiahai, a professor at the Public Health School of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, on emerging infectious diseases. They have been on the trail of the virus, but Zhong says United States politicisation of the pandemic to lay blame on China is putting the project at risk. Wuhan institute virologist Shi Zhengli, known as “bat woman” for her research on coronaviruses, has had to publicly defend her work against conspiracy theories the virus came from her laboratory. She called, rightly, for joint international efforts on infectious disease research. “The work in the lab, collecting samples in the field and setting up early warning models needs scientists from different fields with different experience,” she said. Why is China resisting an independent inquiry into how the pandemic started? It must be clear by now that politics must be separated from scientific investigation if the world is to prevent or be prepared for the next outbreak of a mystery virus. If we allow them to mix, the result could be counterproductive or even catastrophic. An independent review of the origin and handling of the outbreak led by the World Health Organisation and backed by China remains a good start on the way forward.