Climate Change Could Have Played A Role In The Covid-19 Outbreak
A study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment provides the first evidence of a mechanism by which climate change could have played a direct role in the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The number of coronaviruses in an area is closely linked to the number of different bat species present. Thanks to their immune systems, bats have a notorious ability to live with viruses, acting both as a reservoir for new mutations and asymptomatic carrier for viruses. The world's bat population carries around 3,000 different types of coronavirus, with each bat species harboring an average of 2.7 coronaviruses. An increase in the number of bat species in a particular region, driven by climate change, may increase the likelihood that a coronavirus harmful to humans is present, transmitted, or evolves there. Most coronaviruses carried by bats cannot jump into humans. But several coronaviruses known to infect humans are very likely to have originated in bats, including three that can cause human fatalities: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) CoV, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) CoV-1 and CoV-2.
The new study has revealed large-scale changes in the type of vegetation in the southern Chinese Yunnan province, and adjacent regions in Myanmar and Laos, the region where genetic data suggests SARS-CoV-2 may have arisen.
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