An animal disease expert has said it is surprising there aren’t more pandemics like the coronavirus – ‘given the way we treat and commoditize animals’.
Professor Andrew Cunningham is the deputy director of science at the Zoological Society of London.
He told The Telegraph that unless humans change their behavior and research, we should expect more outbreaks that the current Covid-19 situation.
Increased contact with wildlife and more exposure to different species, alongside the growing human population were cited by the Professor as some of the key reasons behind the increased ‘zoonotic spillover’ in recent times.
Professor Cunningham told The Telegraph: “It is surprising in some ways that it does not happen more frequently given the way we treat and commoditize animals.”
‘Entirely unnatural ecosystem’
He added: “We have seen this happen before. Unless human behaviors and activities change, we are going to see it happen again. The frequency of occurrence of zoonotic spillover is increasing in recent decades. That is because of the way we interact with wildlife now.
“All these things have happened in the last 50 or 60 years. We are living in an entirely different world. We have created an entirely unnatural ecosystem for ourselves and that is leading to the increased chance of novel pathogen spillover from wildlife into people.”
It is believed the coronavirus started at a ‘wet market’ – where live animals are freshly slaughtered and kept in close proximity to humans and dead animals – in Wuhan in early December.
Since then, the virus has infected more than 340,000 people globally, killing around 15,000.