In 50 years, 15,000 new cases likely of mammals transmitting viruses to mammals

The rising temperatures and rapid climate change across the globe is likely to drive 15,000 new instances of viruses being transmitted from mammals to mammals by 2070, a study published by Nature journal has predicted. This will increase the risk of new viruses infecting humans manifold, leaving room for several pandemics in the coming future, the study warned.

Several researchers have attributed the Covid-19 virus to the zoonotic transmission – passing of a previously unknown virus (Coronavirus in this case) from a wild animal to a human.

The study’s co-author Colin Carlson, a global change biologist also at Georgetown, said climate change is “creating innumerable hotspots of future zoonotic risk – or present day zoonotic risk – right in our backyard. We have to acknowledge that climate change is going to be the biggest upstream driver of disease emergence, and we have to build health systems that are ready for that.”

Here’s what the study predicts says about climate change and jumping of viruses across species:

1. As the temperature rises, several animal species will abandon their native places and move to cooler land where they will meet several other new species for the first time. This will give rise to virus-transmission among mammals, the study says.

2. A rise in viruses jumping between species will trigger more outbreaks like the Covid-19 pandemic, posing a serious threat to human and animal health alike, the study warns.

3. The hotspots of virus-jumping will be regions with species-rich ecosystems (particularly areas of Africa and Asia) and areas that are densely populated by humans – India and Indonesia.

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4. The transfer of viruses and pathogens from animals to humans will take place in densely populated regions of the world.

5. This process has likely already begun, and will continue even if the world acts quickly to reduce carbon emissions and poses a major threat to both animals and humans, the researchers said.

6. Thought to be part of the origins of Covid-19, bats are believed to be reservoirs of viruses and will go through virus transmission regardless of climate change.