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The contribution of veterinary public health to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic from a One Health perspective.

  • Ferri, Maurizio1
  • Lloyd-Evans, Meredith2
  • 1 Scientific Coordinator of the Italian Society of Preventive Veterinary Medicine (SIMeVeP), Italy. , (Italy)
  • 2 Representative for Association of Veterinary Consultants on the European Food Safety Agency's Stakeholder Advisory Group on Emerging Risks, Founder of BioBridge Ltd, Cambridge, UK.
Published Article
One health (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.onehlt.2021.100230
PMID: 33681446


The human coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic represents one of the greatest public health crises in recent history, which has caused unprecedented and massive disruptions of social and economic life globally, and the biggest communication challenges for public information-sharing. While there is strong evidence that bats are the animal source of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19, there are many uncertainties around the epidemiology, the intermediate animal species, and potential animal routes of SARS-Cov-2 transmission to humans. While it has also long been known that coronaviruses circulate among different animal species, including SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, responsible for the pandemics of severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome endemic in Middle Eastern countries in 2002-2003 and 2012 respectively, the way this pandemic is being managed tends to downplay or neglect the veterinary contribution, which is not in line with the One Health approach, if we consider that the genesis of the COVID-19 pandemic, likewise SARS and MERS lies on a close and interdependent links of humans, animals and the environment. To overcome this flaw, and to better operationalize the One Health approach, there are several lines of contributions the veterinary profession might provide to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in the framework of interventions jointly concerted in the veterinary and medical domains, notably: the experience in dealing with past animal epidemics, the skills in conducting wildlife surveillance targeting emerging pathogens at risky hot spots, and with the aim to predict and prevent future pandemics, the laboratory support for the diagnosis and molecular characterization of SARS-CoV-2 and human samples testing, and animal import risk assessment to define COVID-19 risk strategy for international air travel. The veterinary profession presents itself ontologically with a strong One Health accent and all the related valuable knowledge can be properly integrated within centralised multidisciplinary task-forces set up at the national and international level, with a renewed role in the management and monitoring structures required for managing the COVID-19 pandemic. © 2021 Published by Elsevier B.V.

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