As we live in closer proximity to wild animals, there’s more chance of viruses hopping from species to species—and it’s happening more and more. Conservation is suddenly a public health issue.
While pandemics and major epidemics have been defining moments throughout history, compared to now, they used to be relatively rare. That’s changing this century: first came SARS, then the swine flu, MERS, a new outbreak of Ebola, Zika, Dengue fever, and now COVID-19. And while scientists race to develop a vaccine and drugs for the new coronavirus, that won’t solve the larger problem. There’s a clear link between the spread of viruses and the relationship between humans and the natural world—and if that relationship doesn’t change, we can expect to see more pandemics in the near future, some of which may be far deadlier than COVID-19.