Viral Spillover Risks

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According to new research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the biological research journal of the UK’s The Royal Society, there is an increased risk of “viral spillover” in some regions that could cause new pandemics over the next few years.


  • In this study, while 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. 
  • This is because there is another important link in the process.
  • As long as viruses and their ‘bridge vectors’ – that act as hosts and lead to their spread – are not simultaneously present in the environment, the likelihood of dramatic events probably remains low.
  • Climate change leads to shifts in species ranges and distributions, new associations can emerge, bringing in vectors that can mediate viral spillovers, as simulations recently highlight.

‘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’.


Source : Indian Express