‘Viral spillover risk’


    In News 

    • The effects of climate change are being witnessed across a range of environments
      • According to new research, yet another effect could be the increased risk of “viral spillover” in some regions could cause new pandemics over the next few years.

    What is viral spillover?

    • Viruses are some of the most abundant entities on earth, but they need to infect a host’s cell in order to replicate. 
    • According to the research, these virus/host relationships seem relatively stable within superkingdoms, the major groupings of organisms. 
    • However, below this rank, viruses may infect a new host from a reservoir host (in which it usually resides) by being able to transmit sustainably in a novel host – a process defined as ‘viral spillover’.
    • Researchers  estimated the spillover risk and found that the chances of a virus moving to a new host increases with runoff from glacier melt, treated by them as a proxy for climate change.
      •  As temperatures increase, the melting of glaciers increases as well, and there is a greater possibility for previously ice-trapped viruses and bacteria to find new hosts.
    •  It was found that the risk of viral spillovers increases with changes in the environment at a particular location, driven by global warming; this by itself does not guarantee a higher possibility of a pandemic occurring via viruses here.