DID YOU KNOW? According to research, “the cost of preventing the next pandemic is just 2 per cent of the cost we are paying for COVID-19”. Learn about the natural ways to prevent the next pandemic
It’s been more than a year since the Covid-19 took over and changed our traditional lifestyles. Since the vicious virus began people have many questions juggling in their minds, like – when will corona end, will there be another wave of coronavirus or are there any ways to prevent the next pandemic? Well! In this blog, we will be discussing about the natural ways to prevent the next pandemic.
A study published in Science, a leading outlet for scientific news, commentary and cutting-edge research, found that “the costs of preventing future zoonotic outbreaks like COVID-19—by preventing deforestation and regulating the wildlife trade—are as little as $22 billion a year, 2% of the economic and mortality costs of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, which some economists predict could reach $10-20 trillion”.
Ways for preventing the next pandemic:
- Reduce Deforestation
According to scientists, deforestation is largely to blame for pandemics. As humans invade the undisturbed forest, they expose themselves to animals and the diseases they carry.
“Whether it is someone hunting for bush meat or shopping at a wild animal and fish market, virus outbreak can happen at any place where there is wildlife,” says Lee Hannah, Conservation International Scientist. “The risk becomes even higher when countries cut forests for urbanisation because they are also creating new edges of the forest, which can increase exposure to animals and animal-borne diseases that can infect humans.”
“But the entire process is stoppable and reversible if countries invest in strategies that support the adequate decrease of deforestation,” says Roehrdanz. He also adds, “Just 10% of tropical forests hold more than half of the global risk for zoonotic disease emergence or ‘spillover’ from animals to humans”.
“To help prevent the next pandemic, it is essential for countries and businesses to protect forests rather than destroying them,” he said.
- Reduce Global Wildlife Trade
According to scientists, the markets that sell wild animals have likely been the origin of many zoonotic viruses, including coronavirus and the SARS that outbroke in 2003. But these markets are multibillion dollar revenue generators.
“Driven by whopping demand for wild animal delicacies, the global wildlife trade generates US$ 23 billion every year, but these treats come at a cost to public health,” says Ahumada. “As soon as these animals are traded beyond borders, the risk of a small zoonotic disease outbreak turning into a deadly pandemic increases exponentially.”
According to a new study, the foremost solution for preventing pandemics is banning the national and international trade of wild animals that have a high risk of spreading disease.
- Early Detection of Virus
The first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019. However, the studies reveal that the cruel virus had been spreading in the city undetected since November that year, triggering a pandemic that soon took over the world.
According to Hannah, “the best way to prevent these silent outbreaks is investing in research programs that could detect the virus at its source point itself.”
“There is a significant underreporting of human exposure to zoonotic viruses around the world,” Hannah said. “We need to actively trace and stop virus encroachment in areas where people are in high contact with wildlife.”
Organizations such as the EcoHealth Alliance, a non profit organization dedicated to protecting wildlife and public health from the emergence of disease, are already running several programs to monitor zoonotic diseases, but are unable to expand their functioning due to limited funding. The report found that a minimum investment of US$ 1.5 million per agency would offer a significant return on disease prevention.
“By identifying the areas that are most susceptible to virus spillover, countries can also target the communities that stand to benefit the most disease prevention strategies, including protective gear to prevent human-livestock contact, effective sanitation infrastructure and education programs,” says Hannah.
*The blog is based on the study of three Conservation International scientists – Lee Hannah, Jorge Ahumada and Patrick Roehrdanz.