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Coronavirus and the ‘Pangolin Effect’

March 20, 2020 |

This article was originally published on the World Bank.

“The potential Pangolin Effect denotes the unavoidable, disproportionate ending of an avoidable, relatively modest beginning: a virus, present on a natural host in the wild, causes a pandemic by taking advantage of a large chain of interconnected events able to spread it globally.

The first, large amplification phenomenon is increased exposure. Due to anthropogenic activities, we are substantially increasing our exposure to pathogens we have never been exposed to, and thus we’re not prepared to respond to. We’re doing this in two main ways: bringing wildlife too close to us, or us getting too close to wildlife. The second, large amplification phenomenon could be attributed to globalization: once a pathogen has spilled over to humans, and enough individuals are infected, international flights and cruises and global value chains, transport those infected individuals to all corners of the globe.

…Biodiversity provides a key service many of us are less familiar with: disease regulation. Deforestation and land use change, habitat fragmentation, encroachment, rapid population growth and urbanization are some of the ecological, behavioral and socioeconomic factors that amplify human exposure and multiply chances of contagion. Climate change is an additional, known driver of EIDs, creating new opportunities for pathogens, accelerating the appearance of invasive species and displacing the range where natural species occur.

All of these drivers allow researchers to determine hotspots of zoonotic [Emerging Infectious Diseases] EID risk, and findings show that risk is elevated in forested tropical regions experiencing land use changes and where wildlife biodiversity (mammal species richness) is high. China and Southeast Asia are known hotspots as well. Anthropogenic activities are eliminating the buffering effect that biodiversity and ecosystems provide, increasing the risk of the next pandemic. Reversing these trends is, more than ever, an issue of global relevance for public human health.”

Read on at: the World Bank

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