Researchers have called for ‘urgent action’ to stop a rapidly rising number of deaths worldwide from diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans.
The study, conducted by US biotechnology company Gingko Bioworks, looked at more than 3,000 outbreaks of zoonotic disease caused by four types of virus – SARS Coronavirus 1, Filoviruses, Machupo virus, and Nipah virus – from 1963 to 2019 (pre-dating the Covid-19 pandemic) and found that they caused 17,232 deaths.
Gingko predicted that if the current increase in death rates for these diseases continues – nearly five per cent each year – it could have the potential to cause a 12-fold increase in deaths by 2050, compared to 2020.
They added the findings were likely to be an underestimate because Covid-19 and other viruses were excluded from the analysis.
The researchers warned that ‘urgent action’ was needed to address this global health problem, which they said would only be made worse by climate change and deforestation.