Historian Warns Deadly Plague Will Reap Hell on Earth Again

Another pandemic on the scale of the Black Death, which wiped out half of Europe’s population, is inevitable, says TV historian Dan Snow. The 14th-century plague was the most devastating in history, killing up to 200 million people worldwide.

In Europe alone, 40 to 60 per cent of the population perished between 1347 and 1351.

As the world recovers from Covid, TV favourite Dan who presents Channel 5 documentary The Black Death, said: “Unfortunately, there are no two ways about it.”

He pointed to “zoonotic” viruses – those which make the leap from animals to humans – as an area of concern.

He said: “Bird flu doesn’t tend to jump over to humans. But when humans do get it, it’s horrific.

“But if bird flu has a tweak, and becomes more contagious, then we’d absolutely have a gigantic problem on our hands.

“We’re very vulnerable to pandemic disease as we now know. We’re vulnerable to diseases jumping from animals to humans as we destroy animal habitats and more and more animals come into contact with us.

“Whether it’s bat poo, in the case of Ebola, or influenza from birds, it happens, unfortunately.”

Bubonic plague should not be our top concern, experts say. One reason is that those who survived the 14th century disaster were likely to have been better able, genetically, to ward it off. This means their descendants would be likely to carry any protective genes.

“We’re the survivors,” said Dan. “The research suggests those who survived were more likely to have a particular piece of DNA, and therefore that DNA tag is now far more common. As a result of the Black Death wiping out so many people, those tags – a little corner of our DNA – are more prevalent.”

Prof Turi King, a DNA expert from Leicester University who appeared in the documentary, explained: “The bacteria Yersinia pestis – the bacteria that caused the Black Death – is still with us. The whole thing is still very dangerous. There was an outbreak in Madagascar relatively recently and somebody died from it in California in 2020.

“But we’re in a good place now because we’ve got ways of containing it. We’ve got antibiotics and precautions we can take. And the more we know about it, the more we can develop vaccines against it.”

Original Article

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