Is humanity standing at the cusp of a new age, where face masks, hand gloves, and an ongoing pandemics in the air will be normal? At least warnings from US public health experts paint a similarly grim picture.
The coming of the COVID-19 might just mean humanity has entered an ‘era of pandemics,’ infectious disease experts Dr. Anthony Faucci and epidemiologist David Morens writes in an August report, published in the journal Cell.
“The causes of this new and dangerous situation are multifaceted, complex, and deserving of serious examination,” the joint paper by the two public health experts state.
While pandemics have been prevalent in the world, ever since the neolithic revolution, 12,000 years ago, when humans were hunter-gatherers, cultivated crops, and domesticated animals. But the rate at which recent diseases have emerged is unprecedented.
The doctors in the report argued, in the coming years, more and more pandemic will emerge, driven by wet markets for the trophy, urban crowds, deforestation, all of which will fuel the destruction of the environment, the key to the emergence of disease, Buzzfeed News reported.
“Evidence suggests that there are many bat coronaviruses pre-adapted to emerge, and possibly to emerge pandemically,” Dr. Fucai and Morens write in the paper.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but what we are seeing looks very much like an acceleration of pandemics,“ Morens told BuzzFeed News.
Buzzfeed News noted, most pandemic-worthy diseases re-emerge from older microbes such as the West Nile virus and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Or virus jump from wild animals to people, the evidence of which are recorded in the days of SARS, MERS, and the prevalent SARS-CoV-2 virus.
COVID-19 has so far affected 26 million people worldwide, upending 850k lives as of now. The virus originated in Wuhan, China, at a wet market where it is thought to have sprung into humans from bats.
Morens noted, in the last 17 years, three novel coronaviruses have entered the infection-cycle, including the current one that is causing the pandemic. All these viruses have emerged after more than a century record of no new viruses entering humanity.
In the last few years, one after the other diseases have kicked into infection-spree, starting from the deadly Ebola, to the Zika and dengue hemorrhagic fever, which is anything but coincidence, Morens said.
This is not the first time scientists are warning against upcoming pandemics that can batter Earth. A group of scientists back in March sounded alarm over the drowning state of climate where the human-wildlife conflict is continually feeding the chances of a future pandemic.
Furthermore, the devastating COVID-19 or Spanish Flu that killed way more people a century age are not the only types humanity has encountered. Future potential pandemics could be every bit as disastrous as the others, an expert told Buzzfeed News.
“There is nothing new about this situation, except that we now live in a human-dominated world in which our increasingly extreme alterations of the environment induce increasingly extreme backlashes from nature,” Fauci and Morens write in the conclusion of the paper.
“We remain at risk for the foreseeable future. COVID-19 is among the most vivid wake-up calls in over a century.”
“It should force us to begin to think in earnest and collectively about living in more thoughtful and creative harmony with nature, even as we plan for nature’s inevitable, and always unexpected, surprises.”