A worse pandemic than Covid “on the black death scale” is looming as people continue to ingest deadly microbes from animals, experts warn.
Diseases far more deadly than the current beetle now pose a risk to mankind as animals carry “thousands” of viruses that many species can jump from, scientists have said.
Environment writer John Vidal revealed that diseases “as contagious as measles, as deadly as Ebola” could still mutate and destroy human populations.
Vidal has spoken to experts from around the world who have made dire predictions that the worst may yet be ahead when he writes a book that exposes the relationship between nature and disease.
In the Daily Mail, he called on governments to recognize the threat of a pandemic on the scale of the Black Death, which kills up to one in three people across Europe.
Delia Grace Randolph, co-director of animal and human health at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, told him, “I think we’re going to have a wave of new zoonotic diseases, a mix of old and new.”
Randolph blames the destruction of animal habitats through changes in agriculture and food production for the dangers of a new virus.
A new virus could devastate the globe and kill tens of millions of people in weeks before action is taken as it spreads via air travel and asymptomatic carriers, the researcher said.
Ecologists at University College London (UCL) report that 335 new and potentially fatal diseases have emerged worldwide since 1945, Vidal explains.
More than 200 are zoonoses, viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and prions.
The microbes that are naturally found in wild and domesticated animals are now being transmitted to humans, according to Vidal.
According to Vidal, other deadly viruses that have been transmitted between species include “HIV, Ebola, Lassa fever, Marburg and Simian foam virus in Africa; Sars and Covid-19 in China; Chagas, Machupo and Hantavirus in Latin America; Hendra in Australia and Mers in Saudi Arabia. “
He asks readers, “When are we really going to wake up to the greatest new threat of our time?
“Humanity has changed its relationship with wildlife and farm animals, destroyed their habitats and crowded them – and the process is only accelerating.
“If we don’t assess the gravity of the situation, this current pandemic may just be a precursor to something even more serious.”
Vidal added: “The nightmare scenario that governments face is the emergence of a new disease – or a new breed of an older one – as contagious as measles, for example, and as deadly as Ebola.
“Then humanity could be exposed to a far worse pandemic than Covid-19, possibly on the scale of the black death in which up to every third person in Europe was killed in the Middle Ages.”