World has ‘entered a pandemic era’ caused by environmental degradation, Fauci warns
The coronavirus is the latest sign that the world has “entered a pandemic era,” Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and his colleague David M. Morens warn in an August report in the scientific journal Cell.
Describing covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, as one of the “most vivid wake-up calls in over a century,” the epidemiologists write that human activity appears to be a major contributing factor in the emergence of diseases, which “should force us to begin to think in earnest and collectively about living in more thoughtful and creative harmony with nature.” They cite severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2002 and Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012 as examples of how it has become increasingly common for diseases to leap from animals to humans, and then spread worldwide.
That phenomenon is nothing new, the scientists note, “except that we now live in a human-dominated world in which our increasingly extreme alterations of the environment induce increasingly extreme backlashes from nature.”
First highlighted by BuzzFeed News, the article cautions that there is no reason to think that vaccines, testing and lifesaving drugs “can overcome the threat of ever more frequent and deadly emergences of infectious diseases.” As long as humans continue to wreak havoc on the natural environment, “we remain at risk for the foreseeable future,” Fauci and Morens conclude.