At least 15,000 new species-to-species viral transmissions could take place over the next 50 years, as global warming drives wild animals to migrate toward human territory, according to a study published on Thursday. Researchers warned that these animals could spread diseases like SARS, Ebola, or Zika to humans, with Africa and Asia most at risk.
While some argue that the Covid-19 pandemic likely began in a laboratory, many scientists believe that the coronavirus first jumped to humans at a “wet market” in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Such markets – where live animals and meat are sold alongside each other – have long been condemned as hotspots of animal-to-human viral transmission, but scientists are now warning that climate change could replicate the conditions of a wet market on a global scale.
The study, published in the ‘Nature’ journal on Thursday, predicts that a rise in global temperatures of even less than two degrees Celsius will shift the habitats of some wild animals closer to those of people, potentially introducing humans to tens of thousands of viruses currently restricted to the wild.