When are we going to learn?

2020 was full of surprises and the thing that hit us the worst was the Covid-19 pandemic. The question is whether we understand why it happened? Can we learn something from this? Unfortunately this isn’t the last pandemic we are going to experience if we keep consuming and living the way that we are.

HIV, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, SARS, MERS, Ebola and now Covid-19, you have probably heard about these diseases. The thing these diseases have in common is that they have spread from animals to us – humans.

HIV was discovered around 1920 but it was first observed in the general public in the beginning of 1980. Monkeys carried the virus SIVcpz and it is believed the virus transferred to humans by eating the meat of the monkeys. Once SIVcpz entered the human body it later mutated to what we today know as HIV. Around 35 million people have died from AIDS, which is the late stage of the HIV infection. Today there are around 76 million people living with HIV.

SARS is a type of coronavirus that affected the world between 2003-2004. The virus is suspected to have originated from bats that infected other species who later transferred the virus to humans. Around 8000 people became infected and 750 died. The infection had a low infectious rate between humans, which is believed to be the reason why it ceased to exist.

Bird Flu is a flu virus that has the designation H5N1 and has its origin from birds. It was found in 1997 among humans and it came back in 2003. The WHO (World Health Organization) fears that the virus will mutate and spread more easily amongst humans. A mix of H5N1 and H1N1 (Bird flu and Swine flu) was the reason for the 1918 outbreak of Spanish Flu. Around 500 million people (of that time ⅓ of the world’s population) were infected and 50 million people died. In 1956-1958 came the Asian Flu which originates from H5N1, causing the deaths of more than 1 million people.

Swine Flu also known as H1N1 ravaged 2009. It’s a mixed flu type from pigs, birds and humans. Around 1 billion pigs are raised and slaughtered every year and are a potential carrier of Swine Flu. Between 150 000 – 575 000 are estimated to have died from Swine Flu. The vaccine that was found gave side effects to children – narcolepsy.

MERS is a type of coronavirus that was discovered in 2012 in the Middle East, it is spread by dromedaries. The infection is still spreading and around 2500 cases have recently been reported, and 880 people have died.

Covid-19 is a coronavirus that is believed to have its origin from bats. It was found on a wet market in Wuhan in China. A wet market is a market where they have living animals that are slaughtered upon request from the customer. The spread to humans is not 100% identified but they believe it has spread to humans through animals that we eat who have been infected. The number of people who have been infected is believed to be around 74 million people and 1.65 million people have died. The numbers fluctuate and people are still getting infected and dying. 

All of these diseases are zoonotic diseases – diseases that are spread from animals to humans. We breed billions of animals each year for food, clothes, experiments. All of these animals are potential carriers of a new disease that can cause pandemics.

Pigs, cows, chickens are being fed antibiotics all their lives to grow more quickly and to allow them to live through the conditions of industrial animal agriculture. Up to 70% of all the antibiotics that are produced in the world go to farm animals. What happens is that the bacteria figures out a way to get around the antibiotics, they become superbugs, and when humans then get sick from this bacteria, the antibiotics will not work. When we reach this stage, common infections will be deadly again and it will be the end of the modern medicine we have today.

When are we going to learn that the way we are living today is not sustainable? Wet markets in China closed down for a period when Covid-19 was discovered, but have since opened up again. We eat more and more meat which contributes to the suffering of the environment, animals and humans. The sad truth is that many of the world’s problems today are based on what we put on our plates.

We need to examine ourselves as individuals. Can we eat something else rather than a steak? There are plant-based options for almost everything today. If we don’t do anything about how we eat today then the question is not IF there will be a new pandemic but WHEN is it coming.








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