A New Report finds that Climate Change will Drive Transmission of 4,000 Viruses between Mammals by 2070
Don't panic! These aren't viruses which will cause the next global pandemic...
The journal Nature published a peer-reviewed study yesterday which found that global warming will eventually drive nearly 4,000 viruses to spread between mammals for the first time by 2070. Global warming will eventually force animals to move away to hotter climates which will force the migration of species coming into contact for the first time.
What needs to be clarified is that the 4,000 potential viruses will not be that of the Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2 virus or cause another global pandemic according to Greg Albery, a postdoctoral Fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in Berlin and a co-author of the study
“But each one has the potential to influence animal health and maybe to then spill over into human populations. Either way, it is likely to be very bad news for the health of the affected ecosystems.”
Bats, which many blame for the start of the Covid pandemic, are more likely to transmit viruses because they fly. The report found that nearly 90% of the first encounters between species will be accounted for by bats.
“Bats are disproportionately responsible, but we’re trying to accentuate that this isn’t the thing to blame them for -- and that punishing them (culling, trying to prevent migrations) is likely to only make matters worse by driving greater dispersal, greater transmission, and weaker health.”
Using computer modeling, the authors of the report were able to predict where species would most likely come into contact.
“We don’t know the baseline for novel species interactions, but we expect them to be extremely low when compared to those we’re seeing motivated by climate change.”
The calculations and modeling show that tropical areas of virus transmission will meet humanity in the Sahel, the Ethiopian highlands, the Rift Valley in Africa, Eastern China, Eastern India, Eastern Indonesia, and Eastern Philipines.
“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.
Unfortunately, we will continue to see new zoonotic disease events with increasing frequency and scope.”
Matthew Aliota, a professor at the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Minnesota stated as he claimed the report puts a fine point on a trend scientists have outlined for years now.
It could cost a ton of money to properly identify and defend against the spread of zoonotic viruses the report finds, and that research will be critical to preventing pandemics.
“Big picture, preparedness is the key and we need to invest in research, early detection, and surveillance systems. Studies like this can help better direct those efforts and it emphasizes the need to rethink our outlook from a human-focused view of zoonotic disease risk to an ecocentric view.”
Aliota said with his expense prediction
How humans respond to predictions is also critical. For example, Daniel Bausch, president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, noted humans can avoid interaction with bats to a large extent.
“I would argue to date that response, not surveillance, has been our major impediment. We detected H1N1 influenza rapidly in 2009, arguably SARS CoV-2 early in 2019, certainly Omicron BA1 and BA2 variants early, but nevertheless failed to keep these pathogens from circulating globally. As much attention needs to be paid to response systems as surveillance and prediction.”
Read the full interview between the researchers and CNBC HERE