Is there any link with COVID-19 and Climate Change?
In 2014 during the worse Ebola outbreak in the African continent, we penned an article with titled “ Is climate change making the Ebola outbreak worse?. In this article we established that extreme weather, forest loss and malnutrition may play a role in spreading the virus and weakening immune systems. It was clear that deforestation results in the dislocation of hosts like fruit bats, increasing encounters with humans who are exposed to the pathogens the bats carry.
Climate Change Links?
With the pandemic facing the world today, the World Health Organization cites that bats are the most probable carrier of the COVID-19. Degradation of ecosystems including habitat loss and fragmentation as well as wildlife loss opens the door to zoonoses. As the climate changes, many animal species are likely to change their behaviour or migrate to new areas. It’s also possible that climate change may affect the emergence of entirely novel diseases, like COVID-19. Climate change interacts with threats such as habitat loss and overharvesting to further exacerbate species declines. The decline of species and ecosystems can then accelerate climate change, creating a feedback loop that further exacerbates the situation. For instance, warming may force species to migrate to higher latitudes or higher elevations where temperatures are more conducive to their survival. It’s possible that in some cases, this could increase their likelihood of coming into contact with humans. Climate change isn’t the only environmental disturbance to keep an eye on. Other human activities may also increase the likelihood of human-wildlife contact and the risk of emerging diseases. Deforestation and Wildlife markets are major potential factors.
Medically speaking, impaired immunity opens the way for infectious diseases, which typically raise bodily nutrient needs but reduce food intake through loss of appetite, for instance. Disease and under-nutrition create a synergistic downward spiral that must be broken for recovery to occur.
In other words, a sick person who can only ingest small amounts of food but needs more nutrients to boost their chances of recovery must receive nutritious-enough food. The U.N. FAO argues that the twin problems of infection and nutrition should be tackled together.
A 2001 study found that immune-system boosting compounds were more prevalent in ecologically grown crops than conventionally produced crops.
The application of ecosystems-based adaptation approaches to climate change could improve agricultural productivity in rural communities, and hence reduce their need to encroach on animal habitats to supplement their food needs as well boosting the restoration of habitats and ecosystems, keeping carrier species like fruit bats away from human settlements.
Using simple climate action approaches like solar dryers helps people dry their food products to the require moisture content enhancing quality as well as longevity and hence can improve earnings so they can afford to eat healthier food and by this increase their immunity and resistance to infections — including COVID-19 and the like. It is worth noting that the COVID-19 has been reported to mostly attack those that are medically fragile. Those with pre-existing conditions that have weakened their immunity. So, if people can afford to eat healthy, then their immunity is boosted and infections are kept at bay.
Linkages between climate and infectious disease are a growing subject of interest among scientists. There’s a great deal of research about climate and vector-borne diseases — these are illnesses that are transmitted to humans by other animals. In fostering a more comprehensive response to infectious diseases, it will be important to start looking at how climate change may be contributing to its spread and finding of ways of tackling any climate-linked drivers of infection and barriers to patients’ recovery.