Likelihood of future pandemics, impact and how to reduce pandemic risks explained

By: |
November 6, 2020 12:47 PM

With a pandemic as massive as the Coronavirus outbreak, scientists/ researchers have noted that there will be more pandemics and they will emerge out often.

The reasons for the lower SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels in the BCG group were not clear, according to Moshe Arditi, co-senior author of the study. (Representational image)

With a pandemic as massive as the Coronavirus outbreak, scientists/ researchers have noted that there will be more pandemics and they will emerge out often. The future pandemics are also expected to spread more rapidly, kill more people than COVID-19 did and do more damage to the economies. This has been found by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem (IPBES), according to a report by the IE. It is to note that the United Nations established IPBES however, it functions independently.

The IPBES, in its report, highlighted that there more than 1.7 million ‘undiscovered’ viruses currently and these viruses exist in birds and mammals. Out of these, around 827,000 viruses may be able to infect people. To be sure, so far, more than 70 per cent of emerging diseases including Zika, Ebola and Nipah, have been caused by microbes, usually found in animals. This happened due to prolonged contact among wildlife, livestock as well as people. Further, as per the report, 30 per cent of emerging infectious diseases are due to agricultural expansion, land use change along with urbanisation. Notably, all pandemics reported so far including COVID-19, SARS and influenza, have been caused by the germs present in animals, that can be further passed on to people (scientifically known as zoonoses).

Currently, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic (in terms of cost) has been estimated to be between $8-$16 trillion whereas the last outbreak- 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa made an economic impact of around $53 billion. The report has predicted that future outbreaks (whenever they occur) will make an economic impact that is much more drastic.

The report suggested that these pandemic risks need to be lowered and monitored. This can be done by reducing human activities which is a cause for loss of biodiversity. Apart from this, the focus should be on greater conservation of protected areas along with reduction in “unsustainable exploitation of high biodiversity regions.” By doing so, the contact between wildlife-livestock and humans will be reduced implying towards low probability of contracting new diseases.

Additionally, policy interventions with forming an intergovernmental council on pandemic prevention on a higher level should be promoted, the report said. Countries should also set mutually-agreed goals or targets for the environment, animals as well as people. The report added that intergovernmental ‘health and trade’ partnerships should also be formed aiming to reduce the zoonotic disease risk involved in the international wildlife trade.

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