In the future, researchers believe, there is a threat of even more devastating pandemics than corona – unless humankind makes a fundamental change.
Like all pandemics, the current one is driven by human activity, 22 experts emphasize in a report for the bonn-based world biodiversity council IPBES. It is estimated that there are currently 1.7 million undetected viruses in mammals and birds – of which up to 850 are known to exist.000 could have the ability to infect people.
It is assumed that the pathogen of the lung disease covid-19 jumped to humans at a wild animal market in wuhan in china. To prevent this from happening again, researchers believe that humans need to change their behavior – the same behavior that is causing climate change and reducing biodiversity at a rapid pace. These include the destruction of habitats and ecosystems, for example, for the expansion and intensification of agriculture, and unsustainable modes of production, trade and consumption. All this leads to increased contact between wildlife, livestock, pathogens and humans. "This is the road to pandemic," warned zoologist peter daszak, one of the participating scientists.
Actually, the message of the report is very positive, daszak stressed. They say that humans have been able to prevent pandemics – they are not inevitable natural disasters. At the moment, the focus is on getting the corona pandemic under control with vaccines and medicines. However, it would be much better to prevent such infectious diseases in the future.
Researchers call for ecological pandemic preparedness. They propose, for example, the formation of an international panel of experts to advise governments in the future. Risk factors such as the consumption of meat – which leads to an ever greater spread of agricultural flat – had to be taxed more heavily. Researchers estimate that it will cost the global community a hundred times less to reduce and prevent the risk of another pandemic like corona than to have to deal with it again.
The environmental protection organization WWF now sees the european union as having a duty to act. "The eu is one of the grossest per capita importers of agricultural raw materials. Among other things, it must immediately present an effective law prohibiting the import of environmentally destructive products," demanded arnulf kohncke of WWF germany. Developing and emerging countries needed better technical and financial support to stop the illegal and unregulated trade in wild species and to better control the legal trade in them.
"Intact nature is a bulwark against new pathogens and pandemics and must finally be perceived as a decisive key factor for our health," said kohncke. "More biodiversity protection and more climate protection pay off a hundredfold."