This starkly contradicts the current global consensus, which is that the virus first emerged in China towards the end of 2019. However the Chinese claim has been severely criticised by a number of scientist around the world.
The new report was produced by a team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
It concluded Covid-19 most likely emerged in India or Bangladesh, but also lists Australia, Russia, Serbia, Italy, Greece, USA and the Czech Republic as possible starting points.
The study attempts to find the origin of coronavirus by tracking minuscule variations in the virus’s DNA every time it replicates itself.
By working back through these mutations, they concluded the virus originated in one of the nine countries listed above.
Of these the scientists conclude India or Bangladesh are most likely, based on their geographical proximity to China where the virus was first detected.
The report suggests a heat wave in the early summer of 2019, which could have increased interaction between humans and animals, may be behind the new virus.
It states: “From May to June 2019, the second longest recorded heat wave had rampaged in northern-central India and Pakistan, which created a serious water crisis in this region.
“The water shortage made wild animals such as monkeys engage in the deadly fight over water among each other and would have surely increased the chance of human-wild animal interactions.
Speaking to Mail Online David Robertson, a Glasgow University expert, said: “The author’s approach of identifying the “least mutated” virus sequences is… inherently biased.
“The authors have also ignored the extensive epidemiological data available that shows clear emergence in China and that the virus spread from there.
“This paper adds nothing to our understanding of SARS-CoV-2.”
This view was supported by Marc Suchard, a genealogy expert at the University of California.
Addressing the South China Morning Post he stated: “Picking the viral sequence that appears to have the least number of differences to the others in an arbitrary collection is unlikely to yield the progenitor.”
Early on in the pandemic prominent Chinese officials suggested the virus originated in Italy or the United States, and said American troops could be responsible for its arrival in Wuhan.
However the suggestion was dismissed by global health experts, with critics accusing Beijing of trying to divert attention from its own initial response to Covid-19.
Coronavirus has killed nearly 1.5 million people since it first emerged at the end of last year.
On Friday the UK confirmed another 14,739 cases and 520 deaths.
In total Britain has recorded over 57,000 people as having died within 28 days of being diagnosed with the virus.