Researchers wearing positive pressure personnel suits at a US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases biosafety level 4 lab. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Our luck has run out. The worst pandemic in a century has killed over 3.7 million people globally. In the United States, almost 600,000 have lost their lives to COVID-19. Societies around the world have been, and many are continuing to be, devastated.
The debate regarding the origins of the virus continues with growing circumstantial evidence that the virus leaked from a laboratory. Knowing the origins of SARS-CoV-2 is important if we want to prevent this catastrophe from happening again.
We can state with certainty that human activities including deforestation, wildlife trade and consumption, and intensive animal agriculture increase the risk of deadly pandemics.
Preventing the emergence of naturally occurring zoonotic diseases requires a One Health approach that integrates human, animal, plant, environmental, and ecosystem health. I’ve written extensively about why a One Health approach is important in previous columns.