Climate change may have contributed to emergence of coronavirus in China: Study

WION Web Team
Beijing, China Published: Feb 06, 2021, 07:53 PM(IST)

Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Photograph:( Reuters )

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With a change in the habitats, some species travelled from one place to another and carried their viruses with them

A team of researchers at the University of Cambridge have revealed that climate change could have played a direct role in the occurrence of the SARS-CoV-2 which has caused the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The study, which was published in the Science of the Total Environment journal has pointed out large-scale changes in the type of vegetation in southern Chinese province called Yunnan, and also in areas of Myanmar and Laos.

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Climate changes such as an increase in temperature, sunlight and atmospheric carbon dioxide have led to depletion in the growth of plants and trees and have also changed natural habitats from tropical shrubland to tropical savannah and deciduous woodland.

This, as per the researchers, led to a suitable environment for many species of bats that were found in the forests. The research has also claimed that the number of coronaviruses is also linked to the number of bat species present in the area.

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"Climate change over the last century has made the habitat in the southern Chinese Yunnan province suitable for more bat species," said Robert Beyer, a researcher in the University of Cambridge and first author of the study. "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."

With a change in the habitats, some species travelled from one place to another and carried their viruses with them and may have also initiated alterations of the existing viruses, leading to more dangerous viruses, such as coronavirus. 

"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 evolve," Beyer said.

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