The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic won’t be the last of its kind, according to a United Nations biodiversity panel, warning there will be more pandemics that will kill more people and cause more damage to the world economy than Covid-19.
And perhaps unknown to most of the humanity, there are up to 850,000 viruses which, like the novel coronavirus, exist in animals and can mutate to infect people, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (Ipbes) said, adding pandemics are an “existential threat” to humanity.
The report’s authors said that both habitat destruction and insatiable consumerism can make animal-borne diseases invade humanity in the future.
“There is no great mystery about the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic — or any modern pandemic,” said Peter Daszak, president of the Ecohealth Alliance and chairman of the Ipbes workshop that drafted the report.
“The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk though their impacts on our agriculture,” he added.
The panel said Covid-19 was the sixth pandemic since the influenza outbreak of 1918, which were all attributed to be “entirely driven by human activities.”
These include deforestation, agricultural expansion, wildlife trade and consumption, which put humans in increasingly close contact with animals, both farmed and wild, and the diseases they harbor.
Some five new diseases emerge among humans every single year, the panel said, and any of them has the potential to become a pandemic.
The coronavirus allegedly came from animals traded for food in a market in Wuhan, China.
There are numerous studies showing animals can harbor deadly diseases, and the Philippines is no exception.
According to the article “Are bats to blame for the coronavirus?” posted in the website of Haribon Foundation (haribon.org.ph), scientists from the Zoological Society of London and Columbia University wrote in one study that over 50 percent of newly discovered diseases from 1990 to 2000 emanated from animals.
“This supports the suggestion that zoonotic EIDs [emerging infectious diseases] represent an increasing and very significant threat to global health,” the article quoted the 2008 study as saying.The article also said “two bat coronaviruses were already identified in bats in the Philippines, as noted in a study by scientists from Japan and UPLB published in Emerging Infectious Diseases last 2010.” SOVEREIGNPH