The United Nations is calling for enhanced global environmental protections efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the event in the future.
A report conducted by the U.N.'s Environment Program and the International Livestock Research Institute warned that without such measures zoonotic viruses — that is, pathogens that jump from animals to humans like the most recent coronavirus — will occur with greater and greater frequency. "The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead," said Inger Andersen, under-secretary general and executive director of the UNEP.
Many of the viruses that have caused pandemics and epidemics throughout history have been zoonotic, including Ebola, West Nile, and SARS, and more recently, a new swine flu was discovered that scientists say has the potential to make the jump to humans, while a herdsman in China's Inner Mongolia region recently tested positive for bubonic plague. Read more about the U.N.'s report here. Tim O'Donnell