An Expert on the Zoonotic Leap of the Virus from Animals to Humans
We begin with the good news coming from science as New York experiences its worst day of death from the COVID-19 pandemic and speak with Shannon Bennett the Chief of Science and Dean of Science and Research Collections at the California Academy of Sciences. She studies infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans and joins us to discuss how much progress has been made in the genetic study of this novel coronavirus with scientists around the world working on vaccines and medicines which may treat some of the more deadly aspects of this disease. In contrast the president and his Fox News friends and Rudy Giuliani are touting an unproven drug hydroxychloroquine to treat a viral infection which is used against the parasite malaria that has resulted in a behind-the-scenes battle inside the White House between the scientist Tony Fauci and Trump’s trade advisor the fringe “social scientist” Peter Navarro. With COVID-19 having emerged from a wet market in Wuhan, China, we investigate the zoonotic leap this virus originating in bats took from animal to human and how the delay in nipping the epidemic in the bud came from the slow realization that it has virulent human-to-human transmission properties which because of the lag in scientific information coming out of China, meant that it was able to spread around the world and become a pandemic. We will also investigate what is driving these zoonotic transfers which originate from both the natural world and the unnatural industrial world of agribusiness. First the penetration of forests by poor populations relying on bush meat and the ecological disruption caused by the devastation of forests to create Palm Oil plantations etc. And second the growth of industrial factory farms in which the genetic monoculture of closely penned-in pigs and poultry lowers immunity and gives rise to avian and swines flus, both making it likely we will have more and different pandemics in the future.