Future pandemics will arise more frequently, spread more quickly, cause more damage to the world economy and kill more people than covid-19.
According to a new report on biodiversity and pandemics, signed by 22 experts from around the world, this can be prevented with a transformative change in the global approach to dealing with infectious diseases.
The experts were summoned by the Intergovernmental Platform for Scientific Policies on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Ippbes.
Covid-19 is at least the sixth global health pandemic since the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918.
It is estimated that another 1.7 million viruses currently “undiscovered” exist in mammals and birds. About 850,000 may have the capacity to infect people.
In a statement, the initiative’s coordinator, Peter Daszak, said that “there is no great mystery about the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic or any modern pandemic.” According to him, “the same human activities that drive climate change and the loss of biodiversity also increase the risk of a pandemic.”
The research highlights changes in how humans use land, the expansion and intensification of agriculture and unsustainable trade, production and consumption. All of this disturbs nature and increases contact between wildlife, cattle, pathogens and people.
According to the report, “the overwhelming scientific evidence points to a very positive conclusion.” The world has an increasing ability to prevent pandemics, but still tries to contain and control diseases after they arise, through vaccines and treatments.
The survey states that “escaping the pandemic era requires a much greater focus on prevention, in addition to reaction.”
Counting this threat only with public health measures and technological solutions, in particular rapid development of vaccines and treatments, is a “slow and uncertain path” that causes widespread human suffering and costs tens of billions of dollars in economic damage.
By June, Covid-19 is estimated to have cost between $ 8 to 16 trillion. In the United States alone, losses could reach $ 16 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2021.
OIM/ Abdullah Al Mashrif
According to experts, the cost of reducing risks to prevent pandemics can be 100 times less than the costs of responding.
The report offers a number of options that would help to reduce risks, such as the launch of a high-level intergovernmental council on pandemic prevention.
The document recommends impact assessments on all major land development and use projects and encourages consumption changes, such as meat consumption taxes.
The risks of zoonotic diseases in the international wildlife trade must be controlled, using a new intergovernmental partnership and reducing or removing high-risk species.
Finally, the involvement and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities should be valued, in order to improve their food security and reduce the consumption of wildlife.
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