There has been a "worrying" increase in the evolution of deadly new diseases including the coronavirus in recent years, scientists have warned. 

Richard Kock, professor in veterinary epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College, called for forensic investigation into the source of the Sars-Cov-2 virus to try and prevent other outbreaks because “conditions are ripe” for another virus to spillover from animals to humans.

Kock said that in the last few decades the emergence of new diseases such as Ebola and HIV. has “increased”.

“What is worrying is evidence is suggesting that the rate of emergence of novel pathogens is increasing,” he said.

“So we’ve had a series of these events, which are having not only a social impact, but actually a nasty economic impact.”

The new coronavirus pandemic was preceded by an outbreak of Sars in 2003 which killed 774 people. 

“We still have not identified the source of Sars from 2003, and that’s a big mistake,” he added.

“But you must remember there are very few people working in the field of wildlife health.

“[We need to] get the teams and the scientists out there. And let’s really find out, precisely what goes on in this case, to avoid it happening again.

“It will happen again. I’m sure of that because the conditions clearly are ripe for this sort of spill-over.

“And, you know, we may get over this one, you know, a huge cost. But what happens if we get a new one in two years’ time?”

The Sars outbreak in 2003 was thought to originate from a wet market in the Guangdong province in China.

But research stopped when funding dried up after the pandemic, said infectious disease specialist Professor David Heymann.

The current coronavirus – Sars-Cov-2 – is theorised to have originated in bats and somehow “spilt over” into humans, but there is still no conclusive evidence of how this occurred.

Early cases of Covid-19 have been linked to a wet market in Wuhan, China.

Prof Heymann, who is widely credited as leading the shutdown of Sars, told a Chatham House briefing on Covid-19: “Unfortunately, as happens when outbreaks end, the money dried up and studies were not continued and so we’re paying for that actually today by not understanding exactly how this transmits in markets, if it does transmit in markets.”