The new study claims with proof that climate change contributes to the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, a virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to Global greenhouse gas emissions, southern china became a hotspot for bat-borne Coronavirus over the last century.

This recent study was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment has given the first evidence of a mechanism by which climate change played a vital role in the development of the COVID-19 virus in humans.

The study described large-scale changes in a different kind of vegetation in the Southern Chinese Yunnan region and neighboring regions like Myanmar and Laos over the last century.

Climate Change and COVID-19 

Climate changes included high temperatures, atmospheric carbon dioxide, and sunlight,  affected plants’ and trees’ growth. They have also changed natural environments from tropical shrubland to tropical savannah and deciduous woodland. It established a suitable environment for several bat species that began to live in forests.

The study reported that the number of COVID-19 viruses is near equal to the number of bat species in the area.

They also discovered that an additional forty bat species shifted into the southern Chinese Yunnan region in the past century, securing about 100 more bat-borne Coronavirus types. The global hotspot is the area where genetic data recommends SARS-CoV-2 may have occurred.

Dr.Robert Beyer is a researcher at the University of Cambridge from the Department of Zoology. He is also the first author of the research, recently taking up a European research fellowship in the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. Dr.Robert Beyer explained that “Climate change over the last century had made the habitat in the southern Chinese Yunnan province suitable for more bat species.”

 He further added that “Understanding how the global distribution of bat species has shifted as a result of climate change may be an important step in reconstructing the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The scientists created a world map of the world’s vegetation a century ago to observe the results, utilizing temperate, cloud cover, and precipitation reports. Later, they used the data collected on the world’s bat species’ vegetation to determine every species’ global distribution at the beginning of the 1900s. By analyzing this record on recent distribution allowed them to find out how bat species increased. The number of various species has changed worldwide over the last century because of the changing climate.

Beyer stated, “As climate change altered habitats, species left some areas and moved into others — taking their viruses with them. This not only altered the regions where viruses are present but most likely allowed for new interactions between animals and viruses, causing more harmful viruses to be transmitted or evolved.” 

The bat population across the world carries about three thousand various types of Coronavirus. Each bat may harbor an average of 2.7 Coronavirus. Most of them have not shown any symptoms. Bat’s population in a specific region rises due to changing climate. If it increases, it can be harmful to the human race, evolve, or even be transmitted.

They also reported that most Coronavirus carried by bats couldn’t be transmitted to humans. But it is also true that many Coronaviruses that infect humans are very likely to be found in bats. This includes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) CoV-1 and CoV-2 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) CoV.

The area identified by this research as a hotspot for changing climate increases the population of bat species and homes pangolins. They stated that these species have acted as shared hosts to SARS-CoV-2. The virus may have transferred from bats to these animals later sold at a wildlife market in Wuhan, where the original human outbreak occurred.

These researchers also urge policymakers to acknowledge these conclusions and organize economic recovery programs to address weather change as the prominent role of Covid-19.

Andrea Manica, a Professor at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology, who also contributed to the study, said that “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous social and economic damage. Governments must seize the opportunity to reduce health risks from infectious diseases by taking decisive action to mitigate climate change.” 

Camilo Mora, who is a professor at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, initiated the project. She continued, “The fact that climate change can accelerate the transmission of wildlife pathogens to humans should be an urgent wake-up call to reduce global emissions.” 

These researchers highlighted the requirement to decrease urban areas’ expansion, hunting grounds, and farmlands into natural habitats to reduce contact between disease-carrying animals and human beings.

The study also proved that climate change played a significant part in increasing the number of bat species in Central Africa and Central and South America over the last century.