The root cause of pandemics – the destruction of nature – is being ignored, scientists have warned. The focus of world leaders on responding to future outbreaks overlooks the far cheaper and more effective strategy of stopping the spillover of disease from animals to humans in the first place, they have said.
The razing of forests and hunting of wildlife is increasingly bringing animals and the microbes they harbour into contact with people and livestock. About 70% of new infectious diseases have come from animals, including Covid-19, Sars, bird flu, Ebola and HIV.
However, preventing this root cause of spillover is scarcely mentioned by leaders and authorities, said the scientists behind a new independent taskforce, which will report to the coalition on Preventing Pandemics at the Source. The PPS said the issue has been ignored by the World Health Assembly, and a recent report for the World Health Organization on the coronavirus pandemic.