“We’re not ready for the next epidemic”-Bill Gates
Novel coronavirus also known as the Covid-19 virus has affected the whole world with its high spreading rate. More than millions of people are dead. The biggest economies of the world have collapsed, multiple businesses have shut down. And we all are quarantined and isolated in our homes. But what is the reason for this pandemic? China’s poor management or our interference in nature? Could we have stopped this pandemic? How much time do we have to witness a new pandemic? Are we near to another pandemic?
Let’s go through this and make a detailed analysis. Before this let’s analyze some worst pandemics of human history.
Spanish Flu was a deadly influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza virus. Spanish Flu was a bird flu whose origin was strongly thought to be poultry farms in Kansas. It was said that American soldiers carried this virus in world war 1. This pandemic had recorded more than 50 million deaths and infecting 1/3rd of the human population. This was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.
Do you know how this pandemic ended? This pandemic lasted for about 2 years. It ended up killing 50 million people and no one could find the vaccine at that time.
The swine flu pandemic of 2009 was also caused by the H1N1 influenzas virus. But this virus had mutated itself. It was genetically mixed with the bird, swine, and human flu that further combined with the Eurasian pig flu virus. More than 300K deaths were recorded during this pandemic period of 19 months. It was estimated that around 700-1.4 billion people got infected.
These are two of the deadliest pandemics that humans have faced but these two pandemics are not that severe. Spanish Flu has a fatality rate(deaths from a certain disease compared to the total number of people diagnosed ) of 2.5% whereas coronavirus has a fatality rate of 0.5%. Yet, the coronavirus has hit hard all the countries around the world.
What if I tell you a new virus can be originated tomorrow through your habits? How will you react? Is this even possible?
Let’s check out some reasons why we are closed to another pandemic. And why should we be prepared?
Why Are We close To Another Pandemic?
Industries, government, people are cutting large patches of forest every day. One and a half acres of forest cut down every second. And this is a very serious problem. Many species have gone extinct and many are in the endangered categories. We are destroying ecosystems and disturbing the food chain. Animals are coming closer and closer to humans. And this is increasing the human – animals interaction.
Humans and animal interaction can be the only reason for the next pandemic. We already know animals carry so many diseases. Destroying their habitats and bringing them closer to the human environment is increasing the chance of a new pandemic.
Human interaction with wild animals is already the source of many deadly viruses such as SARS, MERS, West Nile, Zika, Bird flu, Ebola.
2- Our Food Habits
Every day thousands of animals are being slaughtered for our food. But have we ever wondered that the meat we are eating, how does it come up at your plate? Have we ever seen the conditions of the chicken which ends on our dinner plate? Many scientists believe that confinement of chickens in poultry farms is a breeding ground for many pathogens and viruses.
Talking about poultry farms, we should not forget about the slaughterhouses. The hygiene maintained in the slaughterhouses is worst. Firstly, we are consuming animals that might have some viruses or pathogens in them and then we are creating an unhygienic environment for its spread and strengthening. We can clearly witness this reason in the corona pandemic. It is estimated that the Coronavirus originated in the wet market in China.
The bird Flu has the highest potential to start the deadliest pandemic. This is because the H9N9 virus (bird flu strain of the species Influenza virus) can mutate itself at any point. So, at any point, this mutation can start a virus with a high mortality rate. Due to the increasing consumption of animal products, there is a very high possibility to the closure of a new pandemic in the upcoming recent years.
Overpopulation is one of the major issues that we should focus on. Earth has resources only for a fixed number of humans. But we are overpopulating our earth. Due to overpopulation, we are witnessing an increase in deforestation. A new population will demand food and shelter which will eventually surge depletion of our resources and the increase in the exploitation of forest areas. Apart from the overpopulation real problem in front of us is overconsumption.
Associating overpopulation with global migration, people can migrate from one country to another with ease. And this migration can also lead to a negative impact ie the easy mobility of viruses from one place to another and further step closure to chances of a new pandemic.
4- Climate Change
We can’t link climate change and pandemics directly. But based on some analysis we can make some estimations.
The average global temperature has increased by 1.5 °C and the earth is heating up. This is caused by many reasons such as deforestation, animal agriculture, etc.
We have seen a major change in the migrating patterns of the migratory birds. A study shows that migratory birds are the major carriers of pathogens therefore the change in their migration pattern could affect the speed of the spread of pandemics.
Another aspect is as the planet heats up, animals big and small, on land and in the sea, are headed to the poles to get out of the heat. That means animals are coming in contact with other animals that they normally wouldn’t, which eventually and unfortunately creates an opportunity for pathogens to get into new hosts and eventually potents the possibility of the question “are we close to another pandemic?”
Fact to stress
The brain-eating amoeba is spreading across the US. These brain-eating amoeba is proceeding towards North America due to climate change. There is a surge in cases in the Midwestern states of the US.
What Can We Do To Save Ourselves From Next Pandemic?
We have already learned that we are the virus. We are destroying the earth. So, the best way to stop the next pandemic is to change our habits. Firstly, we have to accept that climate change is real. We have to be accountable for the effect of our daily habits. The best solution we can opt for is to go vegan. It will solve a lot of problems like Deforestation, climate change, etc.
The primary risks for the future spread of new pandemics are deforestation and large-scale industrial farming of animals especially pigs and chickens which are confined in densely populated farms.
So, making a barrier between animals and humans by cutting off animal products from our diet can stop the next pandemic. Along with this, we have to take initiatives to make better earth such as a zero-waste lifestyle, taking care of our carbon footprint, etc.
But if we fail in doing so, we will become helpless and will lose our close ones in the upcoming pandemic.
This corona pandemic forced us to isolate ourselves from the outside world. Even though this virus has a very low fatality rate of 0.5%. Think about a new virus with a high fatality rate then how would this world look like? We don’t know when another pandemic will happen. There is a chance maybe mankind will face a new pandemic tomorrow. It’s time to change our lifestyle. Or we will lose all our privileges.
Think before you eat. Because we don’t know what will the cause of the new pandemic and when the new pandemic will start? and how much we are close to a new pandemic?
So, the answer to the question – “Are we close to another pandemic?” is yes. We are too close to another pandemic. We have to either act now or regret it later. Therefore, it’s now or never.