It happened in September 2019.At that time, it was unknown and did not attract the attention of the world. At that time, the US government put down its thumb: Project forecast, A global surveillance network composed of 31 teams of scientists, has been searching for unknown viruses that can jump from animals to humans and cause a pandemic for ten years.
They do this everywhere, especially in markets that sell exotic animal meat or forests destroyed by agriculture, that is, in hotspots where humans and wildlife (such as bats, monkeys, camels) are mixed. Since its establishment after the outbreak of the bird flu in 2005, the program has discovered more than 1,000 new viruses, only a small part of the virus. 827,000 pathogens It is believed to spread among animal populations that may cause planetary crisis.
Four months later, on January 7, 2020, Chinese researchers announced the discovery of a new type of coronavirus that was linked to cases of pneumonia in Wuhan. What follows is known history.
Christopher Golden told SINC: “Scientists have been warning about a possible pandemic for several years and have not attracted people’s attention.” This American epidemiologist is one of the “disease detectives” for the next pandemic. One: Virologists, biologists, ecologists, and on-site veterinarians try to discover Zero Kilometer (the starting point of a new global crisis) and rebuild the global surveillance network to be dismantled by the Trump administration.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health pointed out that “it is important to identify these new pathogens before they enter humans.” Virus tracker, Released the Spanish National Geographic magazine on November 29.
Which sites did you investigate with which scientists Ecological Health Alliance (It was part of the Predict project at the time)?
For example, we went to Liberia on the west coast of Africa. We enter the jungle and meat market. Whenever your population depends on hunting wild animals for food, you are at risk of spreading diseases. We found Ebola virus at the exact place, and Ebola virus entered humans through close contact with the secretions of infected chimpanzees and other animals.
Researchers from the Ecological Health Alliance installed a “harp trap to catch and sample bats” / “National Geographic” / Daniel Hollis (Daniel Hollis).
Under the protection of white suits, gloves and masks from head to toe, we also studied the bat populations in Turkish caves. The locals visited for many years and collected a kind of bird droppings rich in agricultural fertilizers. Some of these bats have been identified as the source of the coronavirus, which can cause Middle East Coronavirus Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). It was originally passed from bats to camels to humans.
What are they doing there?
Researchers from research groups such as Jim Desmond, Kendra Phelps and Supaporn Wacharaplusadee collected samples of bat feces and urine. They also captured the bats in a long thin wire mesh to collect blood samples from their veins, taking care not to be bitten, in order to look for possible deadly viruses. Then they let them go without being hurt. The more clearly we can document pathogens that spread in wild communities, the better we can prepare for infectious environments.
What if the research team discovers a virus that can jump into humans with pandemic potential?
First, researchers are trying to understand whether these viruses have the ability to infect human cells. The sooner we sequence the viral genome, the faster the information can be sent to vaccine developers. Therefore, like the current Covid-19 crisis, the pandemic cannot catch us off guard. These are not isolated issues in a country. Global health is at risk. Almost two-thirds of human diseases originate in animals. The animal world we interact with is full of pathogens that our immune system has never experienced. A leak that is large enough to be detected will not trigger crises such as West Nile virus, SARS, MERS, Ebola virus and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Why do you think that society tends to attribute bats, pangolins, camels, pigs, rats, or mink to the outbreak of these diseases, rather than seeing these crises as the direct consequences of human activities (such as trafficking or deforestation)?
I think there is a lack of responsibility in dealing with these diseases. It is wrong to blame animals. We must help prevent these dangers as a society. We need to consider effective ways to reduce or limit the mining and timber industries, stop deforestation, and expand agricultural and animal husbandry production to reduce the possibility of these transmissions; activities that endanger the environment and endanger human health.
Researchers searched the blood of bats for viruses that may infect human cells. /National Geographic/Daniel Hollis
By establishing better agricultural practices, we can minimize the risk of future disease outbreaks so that people do not need to continue to expand in wild habitats. In addition, you can legislate to prohibit the trafficking of sports animals to encourage people to go to the forest and collect more and more wild animals and plants.
In fact, this is not to eliminate specific animals or to eliminate contact with a certain area, but to create a harmonious environment between population and nature.
Apart from places like Liberia or Turkey, where should scientists look for these viruses with pandemic potential?
everywhere. Most people mistakenly believe that the jump of the virus from animals to humans occurs only in exotic or remote areas, such as the jungles of Africa or Asian markets. The surveillance system must pay attention to what is happening around the world: it can happen on a pig farm in Mexico, a chicken farm in the United States, a mink farm in Malaysia or Bangladesh, Denmark or France. Any type of interaction between humans and animals brings certain types of risks. We must now prepare for the next pandemic.
Do you think that due to the current pandemic, the social perception of the virus will change?
I think one of the benefits of the pandemic is that people truly recognize this relationship between the environment and human health. Many people are beginning to realize the connection between public health and the health of the planet. What we do to the environment may have consequences that will ultimately affect our well-being. It has obvious effects. Hope this epidemic has opened up the horizons of many people.
The United States failed to achieve great success in leading this crisis. We need to exercise the right to vote so that people are in a position of power that respects science, understands science, and can help make decisions and take actions based on evidence.
Do you think politicians will pay more attention to “virus hunters”?
Yes, not at all. After these crises, we usually see funds used for vaccines and treatments for specific diseases, but they usually ignore potential risk factors that lead to epidemics such as Covid-19. Funding is needed for systems aimed at comprehensively reducing the risk of future disease attacks.
In its ten years, the budget of the Predict project was approximately US$207 million.Compared with the global cost of the current pandemic, there is hardly anything: the IMF estimates that the global cost of Covid-19 is $28 trillion In the production loss. What is your biggest fear of the virus?
I think my biggest fear for the current pandemic is that we will continue to not take these events seriously and waste time to protect human life.
In Liberia, they learned something from the experience of the Ebola virus. This helps them reduce the impact of the current virus. When we visited the country, there were hand-washing stations in front of every building. They all wear masks. This is why their case rate is so low; because of his past experience. I hope that we will not be arrogant and even ignore the lessons this virus is teaching us in a very painful way.
You often use the term “autism” to refer to the destruction of nature. What does it mean?
This is a term coined in 2005 by the philosopher Glenn Albrecht. The term refers to emotional distress caused by witnessing environmental degradation, feelings of helplessness, and uncertainty about the future. We are experiencing despair, stress, anxiety and depression due to the rapid changes in our surroundings.
I think what the coronavirus tells us is the connection between the world. We believe that deforestation or forest fires will not affect us because we are far away from us and because it will not happen in our backyard. That is not right. These large-scale global events are essential for people to understand their role in the world.