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Earth faces pandemic 'more like the Black Death' - and it will be far worse than Covid
A pandemic worse than Covid "on the scale of the Black Death" is on the horizon as humans continue to pick up deadly microbes from animals, warn experts.
Diseases far more lethal than the current bug now pose a risk to humanity with animals carrying "thousands" of viruses, many of which can jump species, scientists have said.
Environmental writer John Vidal revealed diseases "as contagious as measles, as deadly as Ebola" could still mutate and devastate human populations.
Vidal has spoken to experts from across the world who have made gloomy predictions that the worst is possibly yet to come as he writes a book uncovering the link between nature and disease.
Writing in the Daily Mail, he urges governments to acknowledge the threat of a pandemic on the scale of the Black Death, which killed up to one in three people across Europe.
Delia Grace Randolph, co-leader of animal and human health at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, told him: "I think we will get a wave of new zoonotic diseases emerging, a mixture of old and new ones."
Randolph blames the dangers of a new virus on the destruction of animals' natural habitat brought about by changes in farming and food production.
A new virus could ravage the globe within weeks, killing tens of millions before action was taken against it as it was spread through air travel and asymptomatic carriers, the researcher said.
Ecologists at University College London (UCL) report that 335 new and potentially fatal diseases have emerged globally since 1945, Vidal explains.
More than 200 are zoonoses, viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and prions.
The microbes, which occur naturally in wild and domesticated animals, are now being transmitted to humans, according to Vidal.
Vidal says other deadly viruses which have passed between species include "HIV, Ebola, Lassa Fever, Marburg and Simian foamy virus in Africa; Sars and Covid-19 in China; Chagas, Machupo and Hantavirus in Latin America; Hendra in Australia, and Mers in Saudi Arabia."
He asks readers: "When will we really wake up to the greatest new threat of our age?
"Mankind has changed its relationship with both wild and farmed animals, destroying their habitats and crowding them together - and the process is only accelerating.
"If we fail to appreciate the seriousness of the situation, this present pandemic may be only a precursor to something far graver still."
Vidal added: "The nightmare scenario that governments are having to face up to is the emergence of a new disease — or a new strain of an older one — which is as contagious as, say, measles, and as deadly as Ebola.
"Then humanity could face a far worse pandemic than Covid-19, possibly on the scale of the Black Death, which killed up to one in three people in Europe in the Middle Ages."