The United Nation’s Biodiversity Panel has warned that future pandemic will be more deadlier than the prevailing COVID-19. It said over 800,000 viruses, like the novel coronavirus, may be able to infect millions of people across the world. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) said the doom has been brought by the humans themselves through habitat destruction and insatiable consumption. COVID-19 is the sixth such pandemic since the 1918s influenza outbreak.
Peter Daszak, president of the Ecohealth Alliance and chair of the IPBES workshop, pointed out that there is ‘no great mystery about the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic or any modern pandemic’. “The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk through their impacts on our agriculture,” Daszak explained. The experts panel highlighted that about five new diseases break out in humans every year, and any one of the diseases has the potential to become pandemic. It said 70 per cent of emerging diseases such as Zika, HIV/AIDS and Ebola, are zoonotic in origin; in simple words, the viruses or diseases circulate in animals before jumping onto the humans. They said the cost of preventing future pandemics was likely to be 100 times cheaper than responding to them, providing strong economic incentives for transformative change. Daszak said their approach has effectively stagnated. “We still rely on attempts to contain and control diseases after they emerge, through vaccines and therapeutics.”
The panel suggested a global, coordinated pandemic response. It said countries should agree on targets to prevent biodiversity loss within an international accord similar to the Paris Agreement on climate change. “Climate change, the expansion of agricultural land and the wildlife trade can all expose humans to new viruses that neither our immune systems nor our healthcare systems are equipped to handle,” it said.
Globally, there has been 45.4 million reported cases of COVID-19, with 8.14 million such cases in India alone and 1.19 million deaths worldwide. In India, the recovery rate is good with 7.43 million people having recuperated.