Climate change will force new animal encounters — and boost viral outbreaks

Modelling study is first to project how global warming will increase virus swapping between species.

Natasha Gilbert

Nature | April 28, 2022

Bats will have a large contribution to virus transmission between species in the future, a modelling study finds.Credit: Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times via Getty

Over the next 50 years, climate change could drive more than 15,000 new cases of mammals transmitting viruses to other mammals, according to a study published in Nature1. It’s one of the first to predict how global warming will shift wildlife habitats and increase encounters between species capable of swapping pathogens, and to quantify how many times viruses are expected to jump between species.

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ENVIRONMENT

What happened when the oceans went quiet during the pandemic? Scientists set to find out

Preetha Banerjee

Down To Earth | April 09, 2021

What happened when the oceans went quiet? Scientists set to find out

The reduced noise pollution during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic made the birds and the bees and other terrestrial creatures merry. In the underwater world, too, anthrophony (human-made sounds) reduced substantially for long months last year.

Scientists have now come together to understand the impact of these quiet months on the marine ecosystem.  The International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE) has identified a network of over 200 non-military hydrophones (underwater microphones) in oceans across the world.Read More »

COVID-19 PANDEMIC 

The race for antiviral drugs to beat COVID — and the next pandemic

Elie Dolgin

Nature | April 14, 2021

Cartoon showing scientists in a bare storeroom containing just a few scattered bottles of antiviral drugs.

Illustration by David Parkins

The year 2003 was an ominous one for emerging infectious diseases. A pair of deadly influenza strains had leapt from birds to humans in Hong Kong and the Netherlands. And a new coronavirus was spreading around the world causing a mysterious illness that became known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Many experts feared they were watching the start of a global pandemic.Read More »

PANDEMIC 

Preparing for the next pandemic

Nature Medicine | March 15, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has opened a window of opportunity for rethinking the way countries prepare for public-health crises. This window must not be wasted.

A year has gone by since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic a global pandemic on 11 March 2020. Nearly 100 million people have become sick worldwide, more than 2 million have died, and many survivors are experiencing long-haul symptoms. Despite advances in the vaccination and clinical management of patients with COVID-19, the end of the worst public-health crisis in a century is not nearly in sight yet. In this issue, we launch a special Focus dedicated to understanding the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to begin to explore the lessons that can be learned from the mistakes made in handling the current health crisis, in order to prepare for future crises.

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COVID-19 AND GENDER 

Pandemic Hit Academic Mothers Especially Hard, New Data Confirm

Katie Langin

Science | February 09, 2021

ISTOCK.COM/DAMIRCUDIC

In March 2020, Reshma Jagsi—a radiation oncologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor—wrote an opinion piece predicting female scientists would feel a disproportionate impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. Skeptical journal editors declined to publish it. Since then, though, many commentators have echoed her message. And now the evidence has become clear: The pandemic has exacerbated existing disparities and created additional challenges for women, especially those with children, struggling to maintain their research productivity.Read More »

COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Inequality and Epidemic

Kumar Rana

Frontier | Vol. 53, No. 22-25, Nov 29 – Dec 26, 2020

[Following is a slightly shortened version of a talk given by the author at a webinar hosted by the Bengal Institute of Political Studies on 19 May 2020]

Ever since the begining of recorded history, in equality and epidemic have been closely and complimentarily related with each other. Exploited populations contribute immensely to the accumulation of global wealth through their natural resources and human labour, but they themselves are deprived of the opportunities necessary for survival, let alone leading a decent life. With this, as Rob Wallace in his Big Farms Make Big Flu (Monthly Review Press, 2016) has elaborated, capital robs the population of the natural resources and gives them big flu in return.Read More »

DISCUSSIONS ON PANDEMICS

The Pandemic Bookshelf Grows

Tilli Tansey

Nature | December 18, 2020

Cemetery workers in full PPE (personal protective equipment) bury a victim of COVID-19 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Cemetery workers wear personal protective equipment to prepare graves for those who have died from COVID-19 in Juárez, Mexico.Credit: Mario Tama/Getty

The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread — and Why They Stop Adam Kucharski Wellcome Collection (2020)

COVID-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One Debora Mackenzie Hachette (2020)

Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live Nicholas A. Christakis Little, Brown Spark (2020)

Understanding Coronavirus Raul Rabadan Cambridge University Press (2020)

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PANDEMICS

Exclusive: Behind the Front Lines of the Ebola Wars

Amy Maxmen

Nature | September 11, 2019

A health worker is seen in a hospital where suspected Ebola cases are referred to hospital, Aloya, Democratic Republic of Congo
Health workers in a war-weary region are confronted with Ebola, a deadly virus that has claimed more than 2,000 lives. Credit: John Wessels for Nature

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus concentrates on a map of a long-forsaken war zone in the northeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Ebola is gaining ground here, and Tedros, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), needs to stop it. He huddles in a dim corner of a mess hall with his officers on the front lines. Their fingers dance across the map as they point to areas occupied by militia, and explain how their teams struggle to circulate through these parts with vaccines and thermometers, key tools for limiting Ebola’s transmission.Read More »

CLIMATE CRISIS/PANDEMIC 

Possibility of Series of Pandemics: Scientists are Looking at Climate Crisis

A Journal of People report

COVID-19 may only be the beginning of global pandemics – a future scenario in which climate crisis may also play a role.

“We have entered a pandemic era,” said a recent study in the journal Cell. Written by Dr. Anthony Fauci and medical historian Dr. David Morens, both of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the study paints a picture of a future where pandemics become more numerous.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but what we are seeing looks very much like an acceleration of pandemics,” Morens told BuzzFeed NewsRead More »

PANDEMIC

Why Deforestation and Extinctions Make Pandemics More Likely

Jeff Tollefson

Nature | August 07, 2020

Tropical rainforest hardwood trees felled in the Congo Basin, with villagers in the background

Controlling deforestation (shown here, in a tropical rainforest in the Congo Basin) could decrease the risk of future pandemics, experts say.Credit: Patrick Landmann/Science Photo Library

As humans diminish biodiversity by cutting down forests and building more infrastructure, they’re increasing the risk of disease pandemics such as COVID-19. Many ecologists have long suspected this, but a new study helps to reveal why: while some species are going extinct, those that tend to survive and thrive — rats and bats, for instance — are more likely to host potentially dangerous pathogens that can make the jump to humans.

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