Climate change will lead to a new transmission of 4,000 viruses by 2070

BUT new peer-reviewed study published on Thursday in the journal Nature found that global warming will lead to the spread of 4,000 viruses between mammals, including potentially between animals and humans, for the first time by 2070.

According to the study, global warming will force animals to move away from hotter climates, and this forced migration will cause species to come into contact for the first time.

The Covid-19 pandemic was likely caused by the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from a horseshoe bat in Southeast Asia to humans.

An additional 4,000 interspecies transmissions of the virus between mammals does not mean there will be another 4,000 potential Covid-19 pandemics. Greg Alburya research fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in Berlin and co-author of the study, told CNBC.

“But each of them can affect animal health and possibly then spread to the human population,” Albury told CNBC. “In any case, this is likely to be very bad news for the health of affected ecosystems.”

Bats carry viruses especially because they fly. Bats will account for nearly 90% of first encounters between new species, the report says, and most of those first encounters will occur in Southeast Asia.

But this is no reason to vilify bats.

“Bats have a disproportionate responsibility, but we are trying to emphasize that this is not something they can be blamed for – and that their punishment (culling, trying to prevent migration) will likely only make things worse by provoking more dispersal.” more transmission and poorer health,” Albury said.

In a report by Albury and his co-author, Colin J. CarlsonPhD researcher at Georgetown University used computer simulations to predict where species are likely to cross for the first time.

“We don’t know the baseline for new species interactions, but we expect them to be extremely low compared to what we see as climate change-related,” Alberti told CNBC.

These calculations show that transmission foci of the new virus in the tropics will overlap with communities in the Sahel, the Ethiopian Highlands and the Rift Valley in Africa; and eastern China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines by 2070. Some European localities could also be in transmission hotspots, the report says. (Albury declined to specify which.)

The report clearly outlines a trend that scientists have been predicting for some time.

“This is an interesting study that quantifies what many scientists (myself included) have been talking about for years: climate change – along with other factors – will increase the opportunity for viruses to be introduced, established and spread in new geographic regions. places and new types of hosts, Matthew Aliot, a professor in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Minnesota, told CNBC. Aliota did not participate in the study at all.

“Unfortunately, we will continue to see new cases of zoonoses with increasing frequency and magnitude,” Aliota said. (Zoonotic diseases are those that spread between animals and humans.)

While he agrees with the overall conclusion of the study, modeling future transmission of viruses is not easy, said Daniel Bausch, President American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, an international organization dedicated to reducing the transmission of tropical diseases. Bausch did not participate in the study at all.

“Changing human behavior (such as hunting migratory animals) and land disturbance in response to climate change—such as urbanization and habitat changes such as highway and dam construction—can discourage mammal migration and limit mixing. There can be hotspots, but also coldspots — that is, areas that become uninhabitable,” Bausch said.

It could take a billion dollars to properly identify and counter the spread of zoonotic viruses, the report says, and this research will be critical to preventing pandemics.

“In general, preparedness is key and we need to invest in research, early detection and surveillance systems,” Aliot told CNBC. “Studies like this can help to better direct these efforts, and they highlight the need to rethink our perspective from a human-centered view of zoonotic disease risk to an ecocentric view.”

How people react to forecasts is also critical. For example, Bausch noted, humans can largely avoid interacting with bats.

“I would say that to date, response, not surveillance, has been our main hurdle,” Bausch told CNBC. “We quickly detected H1N1 flu in 2009, possibly SARS CoV-2 in early 2019, certainly Omicron BA1 and BA2 variants early, but still failed to prevent the global circulation of these pathogens. forecast.”

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