Climate change will drive new transmission of 4,000 viruses by 2070
Blaise Kadjo is a mammal specialist and professor at Felix Houphouet-Boigny University. She shows one species of bat at the researcg laboratory of the University of Abidjan’s zoology & animal biology department on February 4, 2021. Scientists claim that bats are an important part of the food chain but that they also pose a threat to human health. Human encroachment and hunting have increased the chance of them being transmitted. (Photo taken by SIA KAMBOU / AFP). (Photo taken by SIA KAMBOU/AFP via Getty Images).
Sia Kambou | fp | Getty Images
A new peer-reviewed study published ThursdayNature published a study that found global warming is causing 4,000 viruses among mammals to spread, possibly between humans and animals, by 2070.
The study predicts that global warming will force animals away from more hot climates and will lead to forced migration, which will eventually result in species coming to contact for the very first time.
Covid-19 was probably caused by transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans from the southeast Asian horseshoe Bat.
However, the additional 4,000 viral transmissions across species between mammal species does not necessarily mean that there will be an additional 4,000 Covid-19 pandemic. Greg AlberyCNBC interviewed a Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin postdoctoral Fellow, and co-author, of the study.
“But each one has the potential to influence animal health and maybe to then spill over into human populations,” Albery told CNBC. “Either way, it is likely to be very bad news for the health of the affected ecosystems.”
Because bats fly, they are more likely to carry viruses. According to the report, bats will make up almost 90% of all encounters between new species. The majority of such encounters will occur in southeast Asia.
However, this is not an excuse to denigrate bats.
Albery stated that while bats may be disproportionately to blame, we are trying to emphasize that they don’t have to take the blame for this — and that punishment (culling or trying to stop migrations) will only worsen matters by increasing dispersal, transmission and health.”
Albery, his co-author and the author of this report are responsible for it. Colin J. CarlsonGeorgetown University postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Jeremy Sullivan, used computer modeling for prediction of where the species might overlap.
Alberty said that although we do not know what the baseline is for interactions between novel species, we believe it to be very low compared to other climate-related phenomena.
These calculations showed that the tropical hotspots for novel virus transmission would overlap with the Sahel and Ethiopian highlands, as well as the Rift valley in Africa, eastern China and India and Indonesia by 2070. The report also found that some European populations may be located in these hotspots. (Albery refused to identify which.
This report makes a good point about a trend scientists have been anticipating for a while.
“This is an interesting study that puts a quantitative estimate on what a number of scientists have been saying for years (me included): changing climate — along with other factors — will enhance opportunities for introduction, establishment, and spread of viruses into new geographic locations and new host species,” Matthew AliotaCNBC spoke with Professor Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, University of Minnesota. Aliota did not participate in the research.
Aliota explained that “unfortunately” new zoonotic events will be occurring with greater frequency and coverage. Zoonotic diseases can be spread from animals to humans.
The report estimates that it could take a quarter of a million dollars to identify the source and stop the spread of the zoonotic virus. This research is crucial to prevent pandemics.
Aliota said that “big picture, preparedness” was the key. She added that research, early detection and surveillance systems are crucial investments. Studies like these can be used to better coordinate those efforts. They also highlight the necessity to shift our view from an ecocentric perspective to reduce the risk of developing zoonotic infections.