A letter from Copenhagen—Is COVID-19 the last pandemic or an appetizer before the main course?

By Dr. Fozia Kamran Cheema

Dr Fozia Kamran Cheema
Dr Fozia Kamran Cheema

Today I do not want to talk about the coronavirus, as people are busy getting married, celebrating, going out, shopping, and for some reason complaining about why the government has opened schools.

Exactly 17 years ago, a disease ecologist named Peter Daszak warned us about something

Dear people, I do not want to waste your precious time with the boring COVID-19 pandemic talk, because this will not be the last pandemic we will be experiencing in the future. Sorry to be a party popper, but the fact is that every single virus has the ability to cause a pandemic. And current coronavirus might not be the only nightmare we face, next pandemics maybe even worse.

So, let us talk about something interesting, let us talk about the pandemics to come in the near and far future and why they are kept on coming? and is there any solution to avoid them?


Exactly 17 years ago, a disease ecologist named Peter Daszak warned us about something. He said, and I quote, “What worries me the most, that we are going to miss the next emerging disease and we are going to suddenly find a SARS virus moving from one part of the planet to another, wiping out people when it moves around.”

That chilling statement which nobody noticed that time, turned out so true as he was looking into a crystal bowl and predicting the future. He is not a magician though; he just remembered the history.

Since 1980 total number of outbreaks caused by viruses have increased significantly, SARS in 2003, HINI 2009, a series of Ebola outbreaks in 2014, Merz in 2015 and his or her highness Covid the 19, we all are enjoying immensely.

Last year could have been a wake-up call for all of us, but there is a problem with humans. They just forget, and that is practical in many ways. But some events happen, so we can learn from them.


In today’s society, everything becomes yesterday’s newspaper startlingly fast. There are new memes to laugh at, the exciting thrilling entertaining world to enjoy. Every single day bombards us in a way, that we are forgetting experience and evidence-based learning. If we are not personally affected by the event, we are excellent at pretending that it never did happen.

We are too busy to ask why pandemics happen in the first place, fortunately, they do not happen every year, but that does mean we stop listening to what nature is trying to tell us.

And unfortunately, our attitude is no different with pandemics. As soon as we find a vaccine, a drug, a little bit of control of our situation, we completely forget about the pandemic. Not only we learn nothing from the experience, but we also refuse to do the fundamental change. Vaccines and drugs are for one virus, what about the next one?

Fine that many of us do not give a damn about pandemics and just carry on with our lives, and some of us do the preventive measures and wait patiently that it will disappear someday. But both groups after it disappears, never mention it again. We just do not want to spend a single minute of our lives to remove the fundamental cause after it is over.

We are too busy to ask why pandemics happen in the first place, fortunately, they do not happen every year, but that does mean we stop listening to what nature is trying to tell us.

Ok, the first question now. Where did corona come from, from SARS COVID-2, which originated into animals before jumping into humans? Second question, is it an unusual thing for a virus to transmit from animals to humans? No, not at all.

A study shows, up to 75 % of new emerging diseases come from animals and are zoonotic in origin.

And now to burst our little bubble of joy, even more, COVID-19 is not the only zoonotic disease, there are almost 1.7 million other viruses in mammals and birds and a large majority of them can infect humans and even cause a pandemic. Birds and pigs, for example, have the influenza virus, chimpanzees have HIV, and even the cutest little turtles, loved immensely by my daughters carries salmonella.

Bats are the winner with Ebola, Nipah, and our very own COVID-19. And why bats are so good hosts? Another question, I guess this article is surely making many of you fall asleep. Who wants to answer the questions when there are millions of funny tik-tok videos waiting? But seriously why bats? Because… …yes you are almost there because they can fly, they can cover larger distances and they have a highly developed immune system that protects them from getting sick.

Nearly a quarter of the world population are bats. Interesting, right. In 2016 a scientist warned us about tourist-based bat attractions, which really sounds crazy. I mean who wants to see so many bats in one dark place, urinating and defecating on their heads.

In my opinion, bats belong to the cinema screen as in “Batman” and even better if they are in their natural habitat. Sorry about the distraction, I was talking about a scientist who warned us in 2016 about these Bat and humans get-togethers. He said and I quote,” the bats here in this cave (tourist attractions) are the same bats that carry SARS, they urinate and defecate and it only requires one person to breath in at the wrong time and suddenly that person can be infected with a virus, which is not only potentially lethal but could cause future pandemic “

That is a serious warning to keep me away from these Bat zoos, and of course the horrible chirping voices of so many Bats.

Now our answer might be, while we are busy scrolling our telephones or doing something even more important like playing” among us “on our laptops,” kill all the bats “.

Seriously kill all the bats and solve the problem, but unfortunately killing is not the solution, not only bats, killing none of the mammals or avian is a solution. First of all, these animals and birds are a crucial part of ecosystem, there is a reason God has created them. And secondly, it is us intruding on their homes, and hence minimizing and in some cases even erasing the protecting buffer between humans and animals, between civilization and wildlife. And I am not very a fan of killing, but if it comes to that, then homo sapiens are the ones to be killed. It will solve a lot of problems for mother nature and planet earth.

Unlike humans, animals and birds love to live where they belong to, we humans transport them and force them to go somewhere, they will never go on their own.

And you may ask if you are still reading this, how And I tell you how, by deforestation, with urbanization, by mining, by mass producing them and selling them for consumption, and by putting them into cages for our own entertainment. And sometimes because we do not have any uniqueness in our very own personality, and we somehow assume that bringing an exotic animal into our homes will fulfill that gap our bad nose or lips plastic surgery has created.

An atmosphere chemist Robert Watson believes humans already have changed 3 quarter of the earth. Some changes were obviously necessary, but others according to the world economic forum, resulted in 31% of new and emerging diseases.

Exotic pet ownership is becoming a real problem. You will not believe but people have alligators as their pets, and if I am not wrong, an extraordinarily rich man in Pakistan has a lion as a pet. In this way, we are bringing animals closer to us and not in a particularly good way. Having something no one else has can be very fulfilling, but then please try to have an exotic brain or just “a “brain. Not a lot of us have it in working condition, so that is also unique and sensual. And hey, admit it, exotic animal owners, you are not cuddling with your bunny-faced alligator or sleeping with your vegetarian lion. What is the point then? Sorry, maybe my brain is not in perfect working order either to understand your love life.

An atmosphere chemist Robert Watson told in a program that humans already have changed 3 quarter of the earth. Some changes were obviously necessary, but others according to the world economic forum, resulted in 31% of new and emerging diseases and were not even necessary.
In 2014 first victim of Ebola in West Africa was a young boy who got an infection from a bat, and the bat came to the village, as surrounding forests were destroyed by mining and timber operations, not because the bat was tired of her ordinary boring life and wanted to spice up the life.

Disease ecologist suggests that when we fragment the landscape by chopping the forest and intruding the wilderness, we lose species that are protecting us, and we favor the ones that make us sick.

As we all know, COVID-19 started from a wet market in Wuhan, China. For those who do not know what wet markets are, many of them are like ordinary farmer markets where we can buy fresh affordable food. But some of the wet markets are like wildlife markets, where wild animals and birds from different parts of the world are kept together in an unhealthy suffocating environment. These animals first transmit pathogens to one and another, and then one day a wife’s only demand for valentine day is, “bat masala rice”, poor husband buys it, they both eat a candlelight dinner made by the husband and fall in love all over again, and hurray for another pandemic.

That does not end here, today I am totally prepared to ruin your fun by making you use your exotic brains, so you no longer be needing an exotic pet in your life.

Factory farming.

When we are farming and developing delicious hens and ducks, we are also farming and developing not that delicious pathogens along with them. So, we can conclude that we all are active participants in starting pandemic, and yes you too, mam or mister who right now is protesting wearing masks and social distancing and complaining about that why governments are messing with your basic rights. The answer is simple because you messed up with animal rights and the law of nature.

Now maybe, if I am lucky and I have forced you to put your cell phone on the side, you might be wondering “kah aub itne teri bakwas suni hay to is ka  hal kia hay?” (We have listened to your stupid talks, therefore, now you must tell us that is the remedy of it?)

How can we stop?

Can we close all wildlife markets?

Ban factory farming?

Stop eating meat all together?

Stop deforestation?

All these suggestions are practical but not applicable, its people’s livelihood we are talking about. And even though a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle feel so attractive, being carnivorous is so amazing for many of us. I hope you did not read it as “coronavirus “

The only solution I have, is to live a balanced life, some hazards are necessary, lets our immunity fight them. But don’t put extra pressure and make it fight with unnecessary hazards, like Bats tourist attractions, exotic animals at home, or eating meat every single day, in breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We can take baby steps by returning all the pets where they belong to. And do you know, where do they belong to? ”in their natural habitat”, not on our sofa or in our bed or in a cage.

God Almighty has created everything with a purpose. I am a full supporter of animal lovers, and I do believe that animals and birds are not created with the sole purpose, so we can cuddle them and feel good about ourselves. Have not Disney’s films taught you anything? They have souls too, they feel lonely, they are supposed to live in the wild, in nature, that is why they come in proper outfits, unlike us who are born naked and need sometimes minks and furs to survive. And if you are really dying in animal love, then move your lazy bums from sofas and cuddle them and watch them in their homes, don’t intrude, just watch them peacefully and show them, love.

And last but not least we can also start with not getting so angry with all this information and by starting an unnecessary fight of hate, grudge, and anger against our immunity. I am only a messenger telling the facts.

Be passionate about yourself, show sympathy to your immune system, and have empathy for every single creature on mother earth.
Even to coronavirus? asks my daughter. I do not have an answer to that, can you figure it out? Oh My God, I am getting late to prepare our Sunday lunch for family and today we are going to have fun with our delicious butter chicken recipe.

Central Desk
Central Desk
Central News Desk.

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