Scientists blame man-made climate change for COVID-19!
The year 2020 witnessed the horror of COVID-19 and the show is still going on! This novel coronavirus has devastated the economy and social structure on a global scale. In a recent study, conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Cambridge, they actually put the tab on the changing climate over the past century or so by humans. Bats are the common carriers for the various strains of coronaviruses.
In this study, scientists have observed that the changing and expanding human habitat and food habits over the last century have brought about a tremendous change in the climate. The climate change has coincidentally created a suitable atmosphere for the bats to reside around the human habitat. This co-existence helps virus strains to spread among humans upon contact of any kind. This new finding was published in last month’s issue of Science of the Total Environment journal.
Bats and their relation with coronavirus
Different species of bats around the world carry more than 3000 types of coronavirus strains. It is supposed that a bat carries 2.7 types of coronavirus strains on average. But the good news is that only 7 of them can infect humans. They are named 229E, NL63, OC43, HUK1, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2. The first four types are less harmful or fatal as they are responsible for common flu. Whereas the last three are lethal. As per the current findings, coronavirus infects pangolins before the strain enters the human body from bats.
What did they learn from this climate change study?
The team chose Yunan province in Southern China for the study where the first case of SARS-CoV-2 infection was registered. The place was designated as the hotspot for this novel coronavirus. After comparing the current climate parameters to that of 100 years old data of Yunan province the team found that there have been substantial changes in temperature, the atmosphere even plant species in that area. Increased temperature, the density of carbon-di-oxide and sunlight have brought significant changes to the ecosystem. This made the area very suitable for bats. It has been found that at least 40 new species of bats have flown in there. With them, they have carried more than 100 types of new strains of coronavirus.
Prof Robert Beyer, associated with this study, from the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge says, “Change in a climate suitable for the bats introduces new species and they bring new strains with them. This not only causes new coronavirus strains to travel to new areas but also increases the probability of human contact with them which helps them to mutate and infect humans.”
Scientists have now advised world leaders to acknowledge this role of climate change in spreading new coronavirus strains. They have also suggested controlling the food habit and uncontrolled urbanization to limit future pandemic outbreaks.