Thursday, January 12, 2023

Climate Change: The Next Pandemic May Come From Melting Glaciers, Study Shows

The next pandemic may come from an extremely cold northmost part of the Earth. Climate change could make the high Arctic an abundant source for emerging pandemics. A recent study has shown that melting glaciers could be responsible for an increase in the risk of viral spillover in the future. Theoretically, a scenario related to the emergence of Ebola and SARS-CoV-2 could start in the arctic region.


New hosts with weak immune systems will face repeated exposure to these viruses. Climate change has a twofold effect. First, it increases the spillover risk. It can also cause a northward shift in species ranges. This could have a dramatic effect on these areas. Scientists analyzed RNA and DNA  sequencing data from the environment using a new method developed in comparative biology. 


A team of scientists collected samples from Lake Hazen to test how viral spillover risk is affected by glacier runoff. In the high Arctic, lake Hazen is the largest freshwater lake and ecosystem. A viral spillover occurs when a virus infects a new host for the first time. The results suggest that the impact of climate change could lead viruses to infect new hosts in the Arctic. The analysis also shows that the risk of viral spillover increases with runoff from glacier melt.


A team of scientists developed an algorithm to determine the risk of viral spillover. Findings suggested the risk was greater for lake samples taken from larger waterways. These contain more meltwater from glaciers. As the global temperature increases, glaciers in this area are expected to become larger generating more meltwater and increasing spillover risk. The high Arctic lake is already warming faster than the rest of the world. 


Scientists believe that these kinds of analyses should be pursued to reduce the potential effects that spillovers could have in the future. So, what could be the reason for next pandemic? Kindly share your views regarding the next pandemic in the comment section? 

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