What is Pushing Coronavirus From Animals to Person. Shrinking habitats and biodiversity around the world means there is a greater risk of pandemics.
Mayibout 2, a village deep in the forest of Minkebe in northern Central African country Gabon, is not a safe place. People here experience many outbreaks of malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and African sleeping sickness. They are still not too worried.
But by January 1996, the Ebola epidemic killed 21 people, out of a total of 37 infected villagers. In it, there were people who transported, butchered and eat a chimpanzee caught from the nearby forest.
When John Vidal, the environmental editor of the Guardian came to this village in 2004, he said people were still horrified about the Ebola virus, which has a 90% mortality rate, and feared it would return again. They still remember their children going into the forest to hunt chimpanzees, then eating meat, then having a severe fever in just a few hours. Some died instantly.
“We used to love the forest, now we are afraid of the forest,” the villager Nesto Bematsick told the Guardian .
Just one or two decades ago, the common perception was that tropical forests and wildlife contained many pathogens, leading to new epidemics such as Ebola, HIV or Dengue dengue.
But some researchers today argue that the destruction of biodiversity by humans is enabling new viruses and epidemics such as Covid-19, affecting every country, regardless of their wealth or poverty. Even a new field of study, planetary health, is being formed to focus on the ever-growing connection between human health and the ecosystem.
Threat is increasing
We invade the rainforests and other wildlife environments … we cut down trees, hunt animals, take them to market. We disrupt the ecosystem, make the virus run away from its natural host. When that happens, the virus needs a new intermediate host. Often we will be victims, ”David Quammen, author of Infectious Animals and the Next Pandemic , wrote in the New York Times.
Research shows that diseases like Ebola, SARS, avian flu, and now Covid-19 are on the rise. Pathogens tend to jump from animals to humans: from rabies, plague of previous centuries to Lassa, Nipah, SARS, Zika or West Nile viruses more recently
Kate Jones, dean of the Department of Ecology and Biodiversity at University College London, calls animal zoonotic disease “a significant and growing threat to global health, security and economics.”
“The hidden cost of economic development”
In 2008, Ms. Jones and her colleagues listed 335 diseases that occurred between 1960-2004, and at least 60% of them came from animals.
She said more and more diseases are related to the changes that humans make to the environment: logging, mining, road construction, urbanization, population growth, etc. come in close contact with animals that have never been in contact.
That is the “hidden price of economic development,” she said. “We are going to places that have never been and coming in contact with new things. We are creating habitats where viruses spread more easily. ”
“There are countless pathogens that are still evolving and will at some point threaten humans,” Eric Fevre, head of the department of zoonotic diseases at Liverpool University, told Guardian . “So far, there’s always a risk of jumping from animal to human.”
The difference between now and several decades ago, according to Mr. Fevre, is that the disease can now appear in urban areas. “We have formed concentrated communities, and next to us are bats, mice, birds, pets and other species, creating continuous interaction, entailing the ability (pathogen) to go from one species to another, ”he said.
The surface of the iceberg
Pathogens do not know how to limit one species to another,” ecologist Thomas Gillespie, a professor at Emory University, told the Guardian .
“I’m not surprised about this coronavirus outbreak,” he said. “The majority of pathogens have yet to be discovered. We still only see the tip of the iceberg. ”
Wild nature everywhere is getting burdened, he said. “The big changes are making animals lose their habitats, which means that species become closer to each other, also in closer contact with people.” He mentioned the risk of Lyme disease in the American suburbs that are heavily forested.
Despite this, medical researchers rarely focus on the ecosystem around humans, according to Richard Ostfeld, a researcher at the Cary Ecological Research Institute in Millbrook, New York. He and many other experts are developing planetary health, focusing on the link between human health and the ecosystem.
“Nature has threats, yes, but it is human activity that causes real harm,” he told Guardian .
Mr. Ostfeld mentioned bats and mice. “Bats and mice multiply when we disturb the natural environment. They often spread germs ”.
What is the role of the market for fresh produce?
Ecologists believe that the pathogen easily leaps to people at makeshift markets, sells fresh produce, where animals are slaughtered and sold on the spot. The South China market in Wuhan, once thought to be the site of the first Covid-19 infections, is also home to many wildlife.
“Whenever there is a new interaction between a variety of animals in one place, whether in the wild like in the forest or at a market for fresh produce, there can be the phenomenon of spreading from one species to another,” Gillespie said with the Guardian .
This market was closed by the Chinese authorities from the beginning. China has also banned the trade and consumption of wildlife, except seafood. But some experts say banning fresh produce markets in the city is not the solution.
“It is impossible to completely condemn these fresh markets, (especially) where there is no refrigerator. These traditional markets are a staple food source in Africa and Asia, ”Ms. Jones said.
“These markets are a food source for millions of poor people, and banning is absolutely impossible,” Delia Grace, an epidemiologist and veterinary at the International Seed Research Institute, told Guardian from Nairobi, Kenya.
“Wildlife, not domestic animals, is the natural host of many viruses,” Fevre and colleagues wrote in an article, arguing that the fresh produce markets should not be blamed. The focus should be on wildlife trafficking.
“There is no clear evidence of a link between the makeshift market and the disease.”
o what can we do? Ms Jones said the change should come from both rich and poor countries. Demand for timber and minerals from the Northern Hemisphere causes the environment and ecosystems to be destroyed, leading to diseases.
“We have to look at it from the perspective of global biosecurity, finding weaknesses, and strengthening health in developing countries. If not then (the disease) will repeat, ”she said.
“We are in an era of permanent emergency,” said Brian Bird, a virologist at the University of California-Davis, who led the anti-Ebola surveillance in Sierra Leone.
“The disease is spreading farther and faster than before, which means we have to respond faster. There is a need to invest, to change people’s behavior, and to listen to people in communities. ”
Propagating the risk of disease to hunters, logging, wildlife trade, and consumers is important, according to Bird.
“Communities always want more information,” he said. “They want to know what to do, they want to learn.”
Experts also suggested rethinking the urban system, especially in temporary and low-income housing areas.
Current short-term efforts should focus on curbing the infection. The long-term solution, knowing that the disease will repeat itself, requires a complete change of approach to urban planning and development, according to the Guardian.
Mr. Bird said the key is to be prepared. “We cannot predict when a new pandemic will come, or where it will come from, so we need a plan to minimize the damage and take into account the worst case scenario,” he said.
“The only thing we can be sure of will be a pandemic.”
- Wrong calculations led to the US ‘fall’ before the pandemic Coronavirus
March 26 marked an unhappy milestone for Americans when it officially became the country with the most cases of coronavirus infection in the world.
The number one position previously belonged to China , where the disease began. As of March 27, the country has recorded 81,782 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Italy holds the second position with 80,589 cases.
United States jumped to China’s position with 82,404 cases. The situation is forecast to continue to deteriorate further.
In late February, the disease in China reached 80,000 cases and just started outbreaks in Japan , Korea , Iran and Italy. At that time, America on the surface still seemed quiet. As of February 20, the US recorded only 15 positive cases and all were related to travel abroad.
Then American officials began to take the test seriously, with the number of cases rising every day. On March 1, the US recorded 75 infections. About 6 days later, this number increased to 435. On March 14, there were 2,770 cases. On March 21, 24,192 patients were confirmed. The United States now steps past more than 82,000 cases and the number will continue to rise over the next few weeks.
Why is the ‘leading the world infection’ moment so fast?
Many opinions explain that: By the time the US recorded few cases, the disease actually began to develop seriously but was not detected.
The mismanagement in February led to disaster. Government officials, a large part of the media and even some experts reassured the American people they had nothing to fear. This allows the virus to spread, until the scale is too large to continue to ignore. At that time, the disease would have spread so much that it could not be stopped if the United States did not take measures to limit social exposure, leading to severe economic trade-offs.
Many criticisms are directed towards President Donald Trump , as he has cut the resources, personnel, and authority of many health agencies making them difficult to operate. He makes crisis statements in his usual style, cites controversial information about accuracy and uses great words. This tactic has been effective in many scandals recently, but not with coronavirus
Still, failure to respond is not just about the leader. Zeynep Tufekci, an information science expert at the University of North Carolina, in recent months has called on the United States to take more drastic action to prepare for the prospect of a coronavirus outbreak.
“The message of lullaby spread not only from Donald Trump and his audience, but also in the US media, exhorting us to worry more about seasonal flu and warning people not to react excessively, ”Tufekci said.
While the government was ignoring, there were signs from some other countries that the disease was “docking” in the US. However, those who know the situation hardly ever speak out. Those who openly warn against comments are overreacting. People believed in the reassurances from public health experts and thought that the low number of cases was true.
The United States remained normal while the virus spread. Now, the most powerful country in the world is facing the most serious epidemic in the world. The question is: Is it too late to turn things around?
Most cases but still in control
The fact that the United States has identified more coronavirus cases than any other country is a sign that the situation is extremely serious. However, this does not automatically mean that this is the most serious outbreak in the world.
Testing is the first factor to consider. The United States initially had low levels of karma, with many cases showing moderate symptoms that were still required at home to follow up and not immediately tested. However, there are also other countries that are testing at even lower levels than the US.
Some estimates suggest that the number of infections in Iran could reach millions, but the government did not record it. There are concerns that some other pandemic hotspots such as India and Indonesia are inaccurately reporting cases due to limited health systems and poverty. One study found that Indonesia is only accounting for about 10% of symptomatic infections. This figure in India is estimated to be between 10-30%.
The remaining factor to consider is the population. America is the 3rd most populous country in the world. In Italy, on average, one in 750 people will detect a positive case. The number in the US is 1 in 4,000, and in New York City alone it is 1/400. The number of infections per capita will show more clearly the level of overload of the health system and the scale of the impact of the virus.
While the per capita infection rate in the US is still lower than in many European countries, the final statistics still seem more serious. Although only a small part of the population of a populous country, the fact that thousands of people suffer from illness and high mortality is obviously a tragedy.
The high number of infections in the United States is a result of a large population, widespread virus outbreaks and improved testing capacity. The fact that the number of HIV-infected cases in the United States has jumped through testing may be a good sign that the country is still able to turn things around.
How did the epidemic land?
By the end of January, China tightened restrictive travel measures across the country. Wuhan City is placed in a blockade. Hospitals and aggressive treatment units overload patients with corornavirus.
Under this situation, the US prohibits entry of all foreign citizens who have been to China. The move helps significantly delay the number of people infected in the US and gives the country more time to prepare better, according to Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Every other response of the government is horribly embarrassing,” Frieden said. The United States wasted its preparation time.
The government’s budget cuts and mismanagement reduced the capacity of many crisis response agencies. The CDC then started research and testing to identify the new strain of coronavirus, but they sent it to laboratories with the wrong reagents. New test kit instructions are also sent.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has delayed approval of self-developed test applications from laboratories across the US. Independent researchers at the Flu Study project, Seattle, Washington, where the first serious outbreak occurred, asked to conduct the tests themselves, but were also denied by the government.
“We feel like we are waiting for a pandemic to explode. We can help, but nothing can be done, ”said Helen Chu, who led the research.
The government has regulations restricting testing for people who have been to China or who have contacted people who have confirmed positive for coronavirus. The shortcoming is that people who have been to Korea, Iran, Italy or countries where the epidemic has been detected will not be tested. If they spread the disease to others, they cannot be tested either . Attempts to identify virus that are spreading in the US have become an impossible task.
By comparing a patient’s genetic sample, virologist Trevor Bradford estimated that the disease had started spreading in Washington state since mid-January. By the end of February, the virus had passed to a nursing home and died. US health officials have repeated the message that there is no infection of the community. The director of the National Institutes of Health Anthony Fauci then identified the risk of coronavirus in the US as low. On February 17, he focused on warning people of the risk of dying of children from seasonal flu at its highest level in a decade.
The American people are aware that the situation is still not worrying. Many media outlets posted content emphasizing that the risk from the flu is higher than coronavirus. This is a serious communication mistake but also reflects exactly what they have received from leading national health officials.
According to Bedford’s estimates, more than 7,000 actually occurred in the United States by the end of February, far ahead of the 68 confirmed positive patients. It was then that a laboratory in California announced they had detected the first community-acquired coronavirus in the United States.
By March, everything had become so clear that it couldn’t be ignored. Community transmission is reported in many cities. However, the reaction of the US government is still slow.
FDA does not urgently permit laboratories to conduct independent testing. Even the testing regulations were tightened, which caused some establishments to cancel the collected samples. The US test level improved, but at that time the virus was speeding up the spread.
One by one, the county and state governments decided to close schools, declare a state of emergency, call people to limit social contact or conduct blockades. Everything happened in a hurry when the local leadership did not have enough research data on hand because the test was too few.
Italy closed all schools on March 4 and sealed off the nation with fewer than 10,000 infections. Meanwhile, the US in turn passed the milestones of 10,000 cases (March 19), 20,000 cases (March 21) and 50,000 cases (March 24) without any travel restrictions was issued on a national scale.
Some local and state officials, such as the Mayor of London Breed of San Francisco and Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio, have chosen their own path, taking drastic measures early on to stop the spread of infection. Some local leaders, such as Texas Deputy Governor Dan Patrick, do not want to cause economic damage. Mr. Patrick argued: If a person were asked “do you want to trade your chance of survival to keep the America that Americans love for your children and grandchildren”, every grandpa and grandmother across the country will accept take risks and let viruses spread.
Statements such as that of the Texas vice governor were criticized for being incomplete. Blockade measures can have an economic impact, but the deaths of thousands of Americans and the overcrowded health system and declining worker health have caused equally great economic losses.
When testing and detecting cases of New York were out of control, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor of Bill de Blasio openly debated the measure to ban people from going out, similar to the policy. Early on in the California Bay Area.
While epidemiologists urge people to limit social contact, the lack of organization and the transmission of ambiguous messages from politicians, coupled with the lack of testing, have reduced awareness.
Recently, the US has taken stronger action to prevent the disease. Schools are closed in many places. The measure is applicable to both restaurants and bars. California, with more than 40 million people and accounting for a fifth of the nation’s GDP, soon asked residents to stay indoors. There are 19 other states in the US that follow the model in the West Bank.
The reality is that the United States has responded slowly and current measures risk not being able to work as intended. It is still not possible to ensure that current measures are sufficient to address the situation in New York, New Orleans and Atlanta, which is seriously lacking in intensive care beds. Coping efforts will therefore continue to “escalate” in the battle with the coronavirus, creating a greater economic burden.
A false start over 1 month ago put the United States at a disadvantage in the next phase of the battle with the coronavirus. March is almost over and the US is still in a defensive position, the virus continues to “attack” and spread with the number of infections increasing hour by hour.