Scientists have named a new cause of the coronavirus pandemic


They like to make fun of the “greens” and those who regularly raise the issue of global warming. And, it seems, completely in vain. Scientists from the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom concluded that climate change affecting China and neighboring regions could play an important role in the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers revealed their findings in an article published in the journal Science of The Total Environment.

As you know, the risk that a particular coronavirus (CoV) will acquire pathogenic properties for humans depends on the species diversity of bats in the region. In turn, biodiversity depends on the climate, which forces animals to move from one territory to another. Bats begin to interact with other mammalian species, which opens up new transmission routes for viruses and the potential for developing virulence.

Researchers identified the geographic ranges of various species of bats around the world in the early 20th century and today and compared them with global vegetation patterns for specific climates. Land cover maps were compiled based on data on average monthly temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, and minimum temperature from 1901 to 2019. The validity of this approach was previously confirmed by empirical data.

Then the maps were combined with two more sets of known data: the dependence of bats on certain plants and how widespread a particular species of bats might be (this area is wider than the actual habitat of animals). As a result, the researchers obtained a grid, for each cell of which the species richness of bats is known.

It is worth noting that this approach does not take into account the actual disappearance of vegetation due to human activities. At the same time, the southern Chinese province of Yunnan and neighboring regions in Myanmar and Laos have turned into a hot spot with a high number of bats over the century, which researchers associated with climatic changes, due to which tropical bushes have been replaced by tropical savannas and deciduous forests. As a result, the number of coronaviruses carried by bats has increased by about 50-150 species (each bat carries 2.67 CoV), which is not observed anywhere else in the world.

In order to reduce the risk of future spread of zoonoses, the authors note, it is important to take measures to protect natural habitats, impose strict rules on hunting and trade in wild animals, and discourage risky food and medical practices.