Recently the UN released that around 850,000 animal viruses would have a high potential of spreading to humans. One thing that has been left undiscussed is the underlying cause of this current pandemic, Covid 19. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “Approximately one-quarter of human deaths worldwide are caused by infectious diseases. Of those, 60% are considered zoonotic — meaning they jump from other animals to people — and more than 70% originate with wildlife.2 In the past 40 years, the worst global pandemics have all been zoonotic in origin, including HIV, SARS, avian flu, swine flu, Ebola and Zika, and now COVID-19”.
The real issue is our relationship with biodiversity, our lack of effort. To prevent the future pandemics we need to focus on reducing our wildlife trade, close wildlife markets, and form a relationship with nature and wildlife. Already more than 5000 species are a part of the trade, with thousands of species predicted to enter as well in the coming years.
COVID-19 was a result of the wildlife trade system and consumption/commodification, and habitat destruction. This is nature’s way of telling us there is something terribly wrong with this system.
One popular mammal in the trading ring is the bat which is known to carry over 60 zoonotic viruses. In an investigation by Newsweek, thousands of bats are killed and exported to the United States, in this process a variety of people are exposed to these carriers. The shipments of these bats are legal, however, how, why, or by whom the bats were killed is not required for legal export. This in turn increases the possibility of these viruses spreading and becoming pandemic worthy.
This is just one of many, over 200 million live animals are shipped into the US annually, of which, many are carriers. Along with the diversity of species entering the US, a series of pathogens are also entering the country.
We need to dive into the policies associated with legal wildlife trade. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is known for closely inspecting bats, African rodents, and non-human primates. As a result, millions of animals are left unchecked for diseases that are worthy of becoming pandemics and killing millions.