The coronavirus pandemic has left the world devastated in many ways. Besides the deaths the pandemic has caused, COVID-19 has lead to a serious economic slowdown around the world. Millions of people have lost their jobs. While there are vaccines being tested for this virus, there are uncertainties about future pandemics. Scientists are now worried about the possibility of another pandemic occurring sooner than we expect.
While the world is busy fighting the novel coronavirus, a group of scientists has been busy trying to find ways to prevent future pandemics. A study in the journal Science has argued that it is possible to prevent future pandemics at a fraction of the cost used to fight COVID-19. The study suggests that we could avoid another pandemic by controlling human and wildlife interactions. COVID-19 is believed to have originated from wild animals, specifically bats.
The study now proposes ways of ensuring that viruses from animals do not transfer to humans. The scientists have suggested measures that could reduce human-wildlife interaction and help prevent the spread of diseases. At the same time, these measures could protect the environment. The proposed measures include ending illegal wildlife trade, preserving forests and enhancing disease surveillance.
“We have a lot of examples of these actions curtailing risk,” said Aaron Bernstein, director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and one of the authors of the study. “So we know that it’s possible — but we haven’t really invested at all.”
Although there have been similar measures undertaken by governments, the seriousness of these actions has always been questionable. The study now provides evidence that shows taming both the illegal wildlife trade and deforestation could be achieved at a fraction of the economic cost of managing the coronavirus. If such actions are not taken and there is the occurrence of another pandemic in the near future, the impact would be devastating for the world.
Image via Annie Spratt