Emergence of a Zoonotic Pathogen - Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in the Context of Changing Environment
A newly discovered strain of coronavirus is the causal agent of COVID-19 pandemic. Preliminary findings suggest that this novel coronavirus - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) might have originated in bats, and thereafter crossed the species barrier from an intermediate host; eventually spreading within humans. Bat coronaviruses are older than the coronaviruses identified in other animals and have shown a consistent growth rate. The diverse natures of coronaviruses in different bat species have witnessed repeated introductions and occasional establishment in other animal species. The dispersion of animal diseases and zoonotic pathogens is facilitated by rapid globalization, international trading and the ever-growing flow of goods and people. Climate change coupled with globalization and extensive deforestation can act as a significant selection pressure which can lead to onsets of future coronavirus transmission cycles. Climate change alters the availability of viable habitat for the hosts as well which results in the redistribution of host ranges and host densities relative to habitat resources. An attempt has been made in this review to assess and analyze the possible causes of the emergence of a zoonotic pathogen having pandemic potential, the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its subsequent spill over to humans causing COVID-19.
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