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Our health risks, we would like to think, will drop sharply once covid is tamed. But we may need to think again. According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the novel coronavirus won’t be the last of its kind. As humans ruin natural habits and threaten the diversity of species, conditions on our planet are forecast to get ever easier for zoonotic viruses to leap into our midst. Some could spread faster, kill more people and wreak worse economic damage.

This implies we must stay on guard well after covid is gone, and erect new defences. The real challenge, though, would be to double down on a green agenda that demands both crisis-like attention and global cooperation. The global panel estimates the existence of 1.7 million yet-to-be discovered viruses among birds and mammals, of which about a third to one-half could cross over. As with any illness, prevention must take precedence over other responses to the risks we may be exposed to. High-level denial of climate change, in particular, must end before this problem can be addressed with due efficacy. Let’s not let the Doomsday Clock tick forward

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