Coronavirus (1323) Wildlife trade and COVID-19

10 July, 2021

It seems possible, even likely, that human exploitation of animals is the fundamental cause of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as being the cause of previous epidemics and pandemics. A 2020 Fact Sheet from WHO noted: 'Zoonoses comprise a large percentage of all newly identified infectious diseases as well as many existing ones. Some diseases, such as HIV, begin as a zoonosis but later mutate into human-only strains. Other zoonoses can cause recurring disease outbreaks, such as Ebola virus disease and salmonellosis. Still others, such as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, have the potential to cause global pandemics.' The wildlife trade in particular is thought likely to be the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic, possibly through sale of wildlife products at Wuhan market.

Two comments in The Lancet Planetary Health suggest regulatory ways forward to reduce risk of future zoonotic pandemics.

COMMENT| VOLUME 5, ISSUE 7, E402-E403, JULY 01, 2021

Extend existing food safety systems to the global wildlife trade

Duan Biggs et al.

Open Access, Published:July, 2021

DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(21)00142-X

COMMENT| VOLUME 5, ISSUE 7, E400-E401, JULY 01, 2021

Evaluating wildlife markets for pandemic disease risk

Eric Wikramanayake et al.

Open Access, Published:July, 2021

DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(21)00143-1

These comments are welcome, but I cannot help feel a disconnect between what we know about the human risks of wildlife trade (and factory farming) - let alone the suffering to animals - and the international response, which appears to lack a sense of solidarity and urgency.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org