Study ties environmental conservation to pandemic prevention

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Friday, February 4, 2022

Conservation efforts could be key to preventing the next pandemic, according to a new paper from 20 public health experts around the globe.

Reduced deforestation, better management of wildlife trade and hunting, and better surveillance of zoonotic pathogens before they spill over into human populations should be considered “primary pandemic prevention,” according to the report published in Science Advances, which calculates their annual costs at $20 billion. That’s less than 5 percent of the lowest estimated value of lives lost from emerging infectious diseases every year, from the coronavirus to HIV.

In particular, the paper says, current funding for monitoring and surveillance of the wildlife trade is inadequate and enables zoonotic diseases to cross over to humans by increasing human-animal contact. The authors want increased budgets and personnel for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the World Organization for Animal Health and national agencies charged with monitoring animal importation. To prevent deforestation, the authors advocate mitigating Amazon deforestation and tying conservation measures in smaller forests to investments in strengthening health care systems in those areas.

Read the full story here.
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