Study warns 'spillover events' from killer viruses, likely to cause 12 times more deaths by 2050text_fields
California: Four zoonotic infections, which are diseases transmitted from animals to humans, have the potential to cause 12 times more deaths by 2050 compared to 2020.
New research published in the open-access journal BMJ Global Health has called for "urgent action" to address the rising health threat associated with zoonotic infections, a concern heightened by the coronavirus pandemic that emerged in China in 2019.
This research, conducted by Amanda Jean Meadows from Ginkgo Bioworks in Emeryville, California, analysed 60 years of historical epidemiological data. The study identified 75 spillover events across 24 countries from 1963 to 2019, resulting in 17,232 deaths.
Ben Oppenheim, the co-author of the BMJ paper, emphasised that these events not only occur more frequently but also have a longer-lasting impact and lead to more fatalities. He stated, "It points not just to the risk, but to the magnitude of the work needed to mitigate it."
The analysis focused on epidemic Filoviruses such as Ebola and Marburg, SARS Coronavirus 1, Nipah virus, and Machupo virus, which causes hemorrhagic fever.
Both Ebola and Marburg viruses are carried by fruit bats and monkeys and typically lead to outbreaks in African countries, although cases have occurred in Europe and the United States. SARS, on the other hand, has spread to over two dozen countries in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.
The study recognises the challenge of characterising the implications for future global health due to fragmented and complex historical epidemiological data. However, the researchers assert that concerted global efforts to enhance prevention and outbreak containment capabilities can alter this alarming trend, emphasising the necessity for addressing this substantial and growing risk to global health.