After covid, “emerging viruses have recently worried scientists”: what to expect?

For two years, the health crisis has upset our habits all over the planet. But according to several specialists, other pandemics could succeed covid in the years to come.

What if epidemics were the new evil of the century? For two years, the covid has killed around 15 million people according to the WHO and caused unimaginable troubles all over the planet. If the mortality linked to the epidemic is currently decreasing, many specialists warn of the arrival of future pandemics in the future.

The Pasteur Institute stresses in particular that “emerging viruses have recently worried scientists, such as the Nipah virus in Asia or that of monkey pox in Africa”. An increased concern with globalization which allows a microbe “to go around the world in less than 24 hours.”

Future pandemics “impossible to predict”

“We are unable to predict where and when the next epidemic will take place, explains Arnaud Fontanet, head of the epidemiology unit at the Pasteur Institute. There are three modes of emergence. The first is crossing the species barrier, ie the passage of an infectious agent from animals to humans. This was the case with the AIDS virus passed from chimpanzees to humans at the beginning of the 20th century.

“The second concerns changes in the genome of pathogens, leading to the appearance of “new” influenza viruses, or to the resistance of many microbes to treatments, such as the malaria parasite to antimalarials or bacteria to antibiotics, continues Finally, there is the arrival of viruses in new geographical areas: the Zika virus, which was circulating quietly in Africa and Southeast Asia, reached the Pacific, with an epidemic in French Polynesia in 2013, then in Latin America in 2015. These viruses released from their habitat have since toured the world.

Global warming in sight

Questioned by our colleagues from Parisian, infectious disease specialist Yazdan Yazdanpanah details the main forecasts of scientists. “We are in the process of determining a list of pathogens (viruses, bacteria) that worry us and that we will track over the next ten years.”

“These are, for example, respiratory viruses, arboviruses, at the origin of chikungunya, dengue fever… We can clearly see that before Covid, we had H1N1, in 2009, and that even before , Sars-CoV-1, in 2003. And others: Ebola, Zika… These outbreaks are likely to continue.”

And global warming is likely to make things worse. “When the temperature increases by 4 degrees, there are bound to be more mosquitoes, which carry germs and therefore more risk of being exposed to pathogens“, he explains.

“To fight you have to innovate”

However, there is no question of giving in to fatalism on the side of the scientific community. “We are in the process of setting up a plan of attack, assures Yazdan Yazdanpanah. First, it is absolutely necessary thatanimals are better monitoredthat we understand why a pathogen adapts to humans when it was not the case before.”

“Finally, we must begin to find treatments and vaccines for the five to ten pathogens at epidemic risk such as chikungunya or Zika. To fight, we must innovate.”

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