We live in a world where industrialization, economy, political vendettas and even war is given utmost significance. That is why today, we fall upon a great global health crisis.
Time to panic?
While the world is battling against a severe Covid-19 outbreak, the sole question that comes to our mind is, “When will it end?”
We know that we have been exploiting animals, nature and it’s resources and we’re doing so to an extent that the damage is affecting us severely in turn.
And when the equilibrium of the ecosystem is disturbed, terrible things could happen.
How do new epidemics and pandemics occur?
People are coming in contact with creatures, bacteria,viruses and microorganisms they’ve never been exposed to while cutting down forests for resources and venturing into places they’ve never been to.Thus, being susceptible to new kinds of diseases.
Here’s a scientific explanation as to how new viruses come into being. Let’s take the novel Corona virus (SARS Cov 19) as an example.
Corona virus are an entire family of virus species that infect specific animals.
Protein spikes of the corona virus tend to stick specifically to a particular host cell which it’s meant for and are engulfed by the cell. Generally, bird or other animal infecting corona viruses cannot affect human cells, because their spikes cannot stick to our long enough. Phew!What a relief.
But when virus genes are copied during reproduction, mutations can occur. This might cause it’s spikes to change in shape. Generally, this newly formed mutant virus is useless and can’t attach to any living thing. But on rare occasions, a mutation might allow a virus to attach to a new host species. If the new modified virus encounters that new host species, infection occurs. Then a spillover is said to occur
Slowly evolving spillovers are the cause of every major outbreak.
Global Virome Project of the World Health Organization seeks to identify the majority of unknown viral diversity and collect data that can be used to analyse the risk of viral spillover into humans.
Environmental exploitation and global health is interconnected
“With epidemics people have been standing on the shore,waiting for the gusher to hit the ocean.But to prevent epidemics,you have to look at the various little sources that feed into the river”
SARS(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003),MERS(Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2012), Ebola(2014), Nipah (2018) all are said to be spilled over or contracted from animals like bats and civets, camels, fruit bats respectively.
Close association with animals and animal meat consumption hugely affects public health since these are the major sources of diseases. Huge amount of antibiotics are provided to animals to fatten them up and make them survive factory farm conditions before being sold for consumption which indirectly affects humans and induces diseases in long term.
Within a decade, didn’t we witness more panic than ever? A series of deadly diseases affecting us within this span of time, calls for a change.
The Ebola outbreak in Africa was an alarming caution to mankind that something bigger is coming and we are not prepared.
What the world is facing today is the cumulative result of being ignorant and indifferent to our environment,our food processing systems and health care systems. Hence, today we are left questioning whether or not we will survive.
Is this the end?
Even if we get past this phase, there’s more in store for us in the future if we don’t act responsibly. Remember every time you threw that plastic bottle, every time you used the air conditioner when you didn’t need it, every time you wasted resources? Yes, all of these little things add up too. Waste generation and pollution is directly related to temperature rise and global warming.
If the Covid-19 isn’t enough, let me tell you that if climate change causes the polar icecaps to melt away, they would unleash quite a lot of new species of viruses capable of genetic mutation. Who knows if it could possibly lead to a mass extinction in future?
See how our actions are leading us to our doom?
But, your tiny actions can save the world too! Yes, we believe you can. It’s time to take active participation in reducing waste generation, eliminating the non-reusable plastic stuff, planting trees, switching off the lights, not wasting the resources we have.
And, staying home during the current quarantine to be the most important point. 🙂
What is meant by “flattening the curve”?
Here is some simple math:
One person can infect approximately 2 to 3 people. If we assume that there are n affected people, then they spread the disease to 3n people. Now, there are n+3n=4n infected people who further infect 4n * 3= 12n people, which adds up to 12n+4n=16n people. How many people do they infect now?I’ll leave the rest for you to find out. Devastating, isn’t it?
In this way, the number of infected people increase in a geometric progression.
If the number of people being affected increases way high within a short period of time then the current health-care system would not be able to provide medical facility to all the patients. This is why despite having an excellent medical system, the situation in Italy got out of hands. The medical experts are thus trying to flatten the curve or decrease community spread so that less number of people are affected in a short period of time.
So, by acting responsibly today you could save yourself and a lot of people around you.
This pandemic has seeded xenophobia, racism and hostility among some people across the globe.
All I have to say is, we don’t know what the future holds for us so I hope you spread more love than hate in this hour.
We have enough going on around us guys, there’s enough stigma,taboos to overcome, there’s enough love and harmony yet to be spread, enough misogyny to be ended, human and animal rights to be achieved. And a sick, stressed environment would be hardly conducive to a better world for us and our future generations to live in.
We will need time to recover from this. And after this, we need to promise ourselves for the sake of humanity that we’ll give back to nature more than we’ve taken.
This blog is contributed by Ayushi Das.