By Virginia Capmourteres
A new study published in Science by Andrew Dobson and collaborators estimate that the cost of monitoring and preventing zoonotic diseases driven by deforestation and wildlife trade, for a period of 10 years, would amount to only 2% of the economic losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The preventative actions the authors considered in their analysis include reducing tropical deforestation by half, monitoring wildlife trade, reducing spillovers of pathogens from wildlife to humans, ending wild meat trade in China, and supporting the early detection and control of zoonotic diseases. The costs of COVID-19 included in the study were the loss of Gross Domestic Product worldwide and an estimate of the cost of human lives lost. The authors acknowledge, however, that this cost estimate does not include losses due to disrupted medical systems and foregone activities due to physical distancing.
The authors conclude that while a full cost-benefit analysis is needed, postponing a global strategy to reduce pandemic risk will only result in soaring costs.
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