Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

17 Nov 2020

Risk of pandemics

Posted by Michael Keating

Denmark’s decision to kill its 15 million farmed mink because of COVID-19 infections is just the latest signal of how the way we deal with nature is putting our own health at risk. Earlier this month Denmark said a mutated form of the coronavirus had sickened 11 people. The origin of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China is believed to be from a wild animal market. Earlier this month, 22 experts with the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warned, “Future pandemics will emerge more often, spread more rapidly, do more damage to the world economy and kill more people than COVID-19 unless there is a transformative change in the global approach to dealing with infectious diseases.” The group said that pandemics are triggered by the way humans push into wild areas and use wildlife, exposing us to previously unknown viruses. Pandemic risk can be significantly lowered by reducing the human activities that drive the loss of biodiversity, by greater conservation of protected areas, and through measures that reduce unsustainable exploitation of high biodiversity regions. This will reduce wildlife-livestock-human contact and help prevent the spillover of new diseases, says the report.

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