Title: Will climate change amplify epidemics and give rise to pandemics?
Authors: de Oliveira T, Tegally H.
Journal: Science,381,6660, DOI: 10.1126/science.adk4500: (2023)


While the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, another crisis continues to spiral at a much faster speed than was expected. Climate change is dominating our lives and causing a high level of distress. Countries all over the world are struggling to survive the damage caused by extreme events. They are trying to control wildfires, rebuild roads and houses damaged by floods, and learn to survive in a hotter and more dangerous world. However, there is also a new threat that is being overlooked the interaction between climate change and infectious diseases. A comprehensive meta-analysis revealed that climate change could aggravate more than 50% of known human pathogens. Unfortunately, this is happening now.

Since the last big wave of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) the omicron variant less than 2 years ago, a range of pathogens have suddenly emerged. Some are not well known, such as mpox and chikungunya virus; others have been known about for centuries, such as Vibrio cholerae (which causes cholera) and Plasmodia parasites (which cause malaria). There is even the prospect that pathogens frozen in the permafrost, for which no immunity currently exists, may be released as the climate continues to warm. Such a notion may be considered alarmist. And some people may think neither climate change nor epidemics are real or that both will pass. However, there is overwhelming evidence that climate change is fueling disease outbreaks and epidemics and that it is not a matter of if, but when, such events will precipitate another pandemic.

There are several ways that climate hazards aggravate infectious diseases, both directly and indirectly. These include the slow rise in temperature; changes in environmental conditions that increase the dispersal of disease vectors such as mosquitoes, rodents, and ticks; and the sudden appearance of extreme events such as floods, which contaminate drinking-water sources and trigger the displacement of humans and animals, which can carry and transmit pathogens.

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Will climate change amplify epidemics and give rise to pandemics?

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Citation: de Oliveira T, Tegally H. Will climate change amplify epidemics and give rise to pandemics? Science,381,6660, DOI: 10.1126/science.adk4500: (2023).