Welcome to the next pandemic

Some of these health systems are already in place, but could use a nudge to expand their reach, Bernstein said. Take malaria, for example: the global push to eradicate diseases like malaria means that many countries have the ability to test blood samples, or “blood spots”, for infectious diseases. “Many of the places with malaria are also high-risk places identified in this article for emerging infections,” Bernstein said. “Why wouldn’t we use these bloodstains to make spillover screens and then determine where these people came into contact with a species that causes the spillover? »

Locations with the highest risk levels and lowest investment levels are natural areas to target with more resources. But it’s important to remember that viruses can spread any time animals come into contact with people, experts said. “Everyone is at risk, and these viral sharing hotspots in our backyard exist everywhere,” Carlson said. “We should think about every grid cell on this map, where there are people and animals together, like somewhere the next pandemic might start. »

This will require a more complex understanding of climate change than ever before. It’s not just that higher temperatures cause heat waves; it’s not just that the heat causes droughts, wildfires and melting ice. It’s that all of these things push animals into entirely new territory, weakening their bodies in the process and making them more vulnerable to disease, and then introducing them to unknown dangers and interactions. And human beings, also uprooted by natural disasters, are more at risk than ever. It is impossible to predict exactly how all of these factors will intertwine. But as a starting point, we have to start following them and we have to start making plans for what happens next.

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