Climate change ‘key’ to spread of Covid-19 to humans – study

A study by researchers at the University of Cambridge found that climate change played a key role in the spread of Covid-19 from animals to humans, as the two groups were forced to come closer as populations grew .

Scientists have looked at changes in temperature and precipitation over the past 100 years, specifically modeling bat populations based on their habitat requirements. They found that climate change had caused the displacement of 40 species during this time to parts of China, Laos and Myanmar. “Bats are probably the zoonotic origin of SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2”, the study noted.

University researchers explained how this essentially created a Covid-19 ” hotspot “ in the region, bats carrying around 100 strains of the virus throughout the region.

“I find it hard to see that this increase due to the climate of bats and coronaviruses transmitted by bats do something like [the pandemic] less likely to happen, ” Robert Beyer, lead author of the study and zoology researcher at Cambridge, told AFP. However, he clarified that “Our article is far from saying that the pandemic would not have happened without climate change.”

Even though the Covid-19 transmission link between humans and animals has not been fully defined by scientists, Beyer said research indicates that species and humans forced into closer contact have resulted in changes. in the natural world. Citing habitat destruction and increased development of populated areas, he warned humans are pushing “The pathogen in our direction. “

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In response to its findings, the study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, called on governments around the world to tackle urban expansion as it would help reduce the risk of another global epidemic like Covid. -19.

“To reduce the risk of future zoonotic overflows, it is essential to introduce measures to protect natural habitats, impose strict regulations on hunting and wildlife trade, establish animal welfare standards appropriate in farms, markets and transport vehicles, and to discourage high zoonoses. – risky dietary and medicinal customs, while taking into account the socio-economic needs which drive current trends,The study concludes.

Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii, who contributed to the study, said that “The fact that climate change can accelerate the transmission of pathogens from wildlife to humans” should be treated by countries around the world as an urgent wake-up call to accelerate their efforts to reduce harmful emissions.

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