The world is examining and dealing with the symptoms and manifestations of the virus but is not inquiring into its causes and nature. The world has focused on its medical response and reigniting the economy, but if the sources of this crisis remain unknown, there will be more pandemics that are even more serious.
According to data from the United Nations report, which starts with a search for emerging infections in humans between 1934 and the early 2000s, there is an increasing upward trend in this type of illness.
75% of these illnesses had wild animals at their sources and rea ched people by using domestic animals as carriers, especially chickens, pigs and other types of livestock.
Among the most frequently occurring are mad cow disease, avian influenza, HIV-AIDS and Spanish flu, which probably originated in birds and used chickens and pigs as transmitters and killed more people than World War I.
In these examples the driving force behind the emergence of these diseases is confirmed to be human behaviour, among other factors, due to the high demand for protein from animals: beef, eggs, fish, chicken.
Due to the excessive consumption of these products, there is an increase in livestock on an industrial scale, because small farms cannot sufficiently meet the high demands of the market.
This leads to facilities with large-scale overcrowding of animals of the same genetic type and the employment of techniques for rapid growth.
Regarding the above, Delia Grace, epidemiologist and veterinarian, professor at the Institute of Natural Resources at the University of Greenwich in London, warns that a hive of problems is being created when animals are overcrowded and stressed, because when they are stressed in those conditions their system immune is weakened.
Furthermore, in many countries biosecurity measures are not adequate or sufficient due to the livestock being in contact with other animals (rodents) or sick people. “If there is an overspill of pathogens to humans, it can create a problem around the world,” she says.
In her opinion, what humanity is experiencing today is enormous pressure on ecosystems, driven by the increase in population, with an unstoppable increase in extractive industries in places such as the Amazon and central Africa, accompanied by other constructions such as roads.
Such conditions facilitate the movement, contact and the export of wild and exotic animals, which in many cases are to satisfy the appetites of elite minorities.
On the other hand, there is the impact of climate change, which is closely associated with the expansion of emerging known and unknown diseases, and with changes in their patterns.
Delia Grace talks about all this above all, as lead author of the United Nations report “Preventing the next pandemic: zoonoses and how to break the chain of transmission”, which analyses the factors that are causing the emergence of diseases, how governments should implement a key strategy and why, if no action is taken, the next pandemic could be worse than the current one.
A member of the Kenya-based International Livestock Research Institute, Grace warns of the need to broaden research, based on three decades of the study of human diseases that originate in animals, called zoonoses.
She believes that although there is a response to the current epidemiological crisis generated by SARS-Cov2, it has been limited to treating patients and providing them with drugs to prevent complications and cure the disease.
She also believes that efforts have been aimed at trying to rehabilitate the patient so that he can walk and work again, but if where the problem comes from is not discovered, the symptoms and the condition can recur.
The American ecologist Thomas Gillespie agrees with the criterion that if the causes of pandemics are not attacked, others much more serious than the current Covid-19 will come.
It is worth remembering that the SARS epidemic killed about 30% of the infected people, but it was not easily transmitted, unlike SARS-Cov2 which spreads easily although is not as lethal in comparison. (PL)