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New Study on Bats Shows Climate Change is Linked to COVID-19. Here's Why.

Findings have created a growing concern over the probability of climate change causing future pandemics become more likely.

A bat hanging on a tree
Bats are known for carrying zoonotic pathogens, including the infamous Coronaviruses.

Source: Unsplash [4]

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A new study has found that climate change has caused an explosion of bat species. Bats are known as reservoir hosts for Coronaviruses and scientists believe that the Coronavirus type that started the COVID-19 pandemic originated from the flying mammals before it crossed paths with humans [1].


A Change in Habitat

As it is known already, climate change has increased the atmospheric CO2 levels, risen the global temperature, and altered weather and rainfall patterns. These collective changes have consequently altered the makeup of vegetation, a case that is found in Southeast Asia.

Biomes changes in Southeast Asia
The changing of biomes in Southeast Asia region.

Source: CarbonBrief [5]

The figure above shows that the regions of Myanmar, Laos, and southern China have undertaken changes of biomes from mostly being covered by tropical shrubland in 1901-1930 to tropical deciduous woodland in 1990-2019. Since bats are known to flourish in tropical forest, such transformation has made the region a hotspot for bat species, allowing them to proliferate. Experts indicated that at least 40 species of bat had moved to the region [2].

A map of world's bat hotspots
Myanmar, Laos, and southern China have become the new global bat hotspot.

Source: UH News [6]

Opportunity for Evolution and Transmission

These new bat hotspots in Southeast Asia have been speculated to have brought 100 more types of bat-borne Coronaviruses. Having all the Coronavirus types crumpled in one place makes the chance of evolution is even higher and by means also the chances for transmission of dangerous types into humans [1].

However, some experts still believe that further study is necessary to take into account other factors such as the increasing interaction between humans and wildlife and the destruction of other bats’ habitats due to human activity. Nonetheless, the evidence still points out that climate change may have played a major role if not the contributing factor in creating the COVID-19 pandemic [3].

This revelation proves that the urgency for more serious climate actions is at utmost important as humanity’s own health also hangs in the balance.






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