Will global warming cause another pandemic?

The study shows that the displacement of animal populations due to global warming will create conditions conducive to the spread of viruses, with the risk of another pandemic in the background. But all is not yet lost.

After more than two and a half years of bearing the burden of the pandemic, it is clear that we are still far from hearing about it, despite the lifting of health restrictions in France. Many research labs are currently working to anticipate the next viruses that could trigger a new, potentially even more devastating pandemic. And, according to a group of American researchers, climate change will play an important role in this dynamic.

This conclusion is based on the already well-known and documented observation that global warming tends to profoundly alter certain ecological niches. These changes have a very specific consequence: as we already see in humans, global warming also tends to cause significant movements of populations of other animal species.

These movements, in turn, will have a significant impact on the respective ecological niches. Mechanically, these changes change the delicate balance that reigns there by introducing new selection pressures; therefore, different species will be forced to respond to it in a process of natural selection that favors the species most adapted to their environment.

Bats are a real Noah’s Ark for viruses, and their migration due to global warming could have significant consequences. © René Regal – Unsplash

Global warming as a driving force

However, the rate of this natural selection directly depends on the rate of reproduction of the respective species. For the most advanced species, such as mammals, these changes will be relatively slow… but the situation is quite different for the micro-organisms that will arrive with these animals.

Unlike the latter, bacteria and viruses can multiply extremely quickly. While these new conditions are likely to be very challenging for macroscopic species, the researchers’ simulations show that, on the other hand, they will be a real challenge. Eldorado for these pathogens. These microorganisms will then gain access to a range of potential hostslikely weakened by this ecosystem change and therefore even more vulnerable.

Under these conditions, they will be able to arrange a field day; they will have enough time circulate freely along the true epidemiological highwaybetween species whose system often cannot cope with these pathogens unknown to the battalion.

This extremely important mixing will then cause many mutations and, consequently, the appearance new strains of viruses and bacteria… and so on. Thus, it can lead to a significant snowball effect. And you don’t have to be a famous epidemiologist to understand what some of these new viruses are. potential candidates for the next human pandemic.

Thus, according to researchers, global warming indirectly reflects the very first risk factor for the emergence of new diseases, in the face of deforestation, wildlife trade and consumption, and even before industrial agriculture!

Anticipating or even preventing the next pandemic is possible thanks to the parallel analysis of epidemiological and climatic data. © Adam Nowakowski – Unsplash

Solutions exist… but massive data is needed

According to the researchers, these first contacts between all these populations of new refugee animals may represent a real epidemiological highway for “thousands“virus.”This mechanism adds a new level of complexity to how global warming will threaten the lives of humans and other animals.“explains Gregory Albert, a postdoctoral fellow in biology at Georgetown and lead author of the study.

But this does not mean that humanity is powerless before this dynamic. For authors, this perfectly reasonable think that we can in anticipation of the next major pandemics. But it has to do with setting. very fast a monitoring system capable of analyzing, in parallel and in real time, disease transmission and changing ecological niches.

Then it will be possible to determine certain statistical correlations that will allow us, if we are lucky, to avoid a new episode like Covid-19 or worse. So Carlson ends on a decidedly optimistic note. “We are closer than ever to predicting and preventing the next pandemic“, He says. “This study is a big step in that direction, but now we have to get to the hardest part of the problem.“, he concludes.

The text of the study is available here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.