Latest News

Latest News- 24th June 2020

An alternative workflow for molecular detection of SARS-CoV-2 – escape from the NA extraction kit-shortage

Since the major global manufacturers of molecular diagnostic reagents, like Roche and Qiagen, announced their NA extraction kit-shortage diagnostic laboratories are becoming more and more desperate. WHO is demanding that we test more, however we can not test more if we do not have the reagents.

Members of the One Health EJP Consortium at SSI, Denmark, have submitted a manuscript to MedRxiv for pre-print to Eurosurveillance describing an alternative workflow for molecular COVID-19 testing. Their research shows that it is possible to perform a RT-PCR test directly on a sample with only a simple heat treatment, hence eliminating the need for NA extraction reagents. They believe that this simple method will have a huge impact on the diagnostic crisis the world is facing right now.

In brief, the protocol includes:

Simply heating 10 µl eSwap material for 5 min at 98 degrees C followed by 2 min at 4 degrees C, followed by spinning condensation drops down and apply 5 µl to the RT-PCR reaction. This has been validated for the SensiFAST one-step no ROX RT-PCR kit from Bioline, and is currently set this up in the diagnostic Laboratory at SSI. Not all RT-PCR kits perform well using the heat-processing method, so the method has to be validated to specific RT-PCR assays.

The pre-print publication can be found here.

Latest News- 23rd June 2020

One Health EJP’s Annual Scientific Meeting 2020

AnchorThe second One Health EJP Annual Scientific Meeting was a huge success, live streamed to over 700 participants worldwide. The event showcased a wide variety of One Health research with 5 Keynote speakers, 48 oral presentations and 110 poster presentations, focussing on the themes of foodborne zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance and emerging threats.

The Keynote speakers brought a wealth of experience from across the globe, including Stef Bronzwaer from EFSA, Jaroslav Hrabák from University Hospital Pilsen, Czech Republic, Monika Dolejská from VFU Brno, Czech Republic, Mieke Uyttendaele from Ghent University, Belgium and Elizabeth Mumford from the WHO.

The event also included a significant social media presence with excellent interaction with stakeholders and scientists worldwide. Thank you to everyone who joined the conversation!

Technology enabled us to deliver a virtual conference this year, and we hope next year to be able to organise a physical meeting which will further facilitate the exchange of information on new research ideas, new opportunities for collaboration and the reuniting of friends and colleagues.

See you in Copenhagen for our #OHEJPASM2021!
For more information and to view the abstract book, visit our the ASM page of the website.

Latest News- 3rd June 2020

One Health EJP’s Most Recent Stakeholder Committee Meeting

Last week the One Health EJP’s WP5 organised an online Stakeholders Committee Meeting, where, beside one of our Key EU stakeholders, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and representatives of the EU-projects EU-JAMRAI and JPI-AMR, for the first time also representatives from the European Environment Agency (EEA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation regional office for Europe (WHO-EURO) participated.

The participants were updated on the current activities of the One Health EJP, and the One Health activities of the stakeholders were presented. Importantly, it was discussed how the One Health EJP can address needs of the stakeholders and increase impact.

Latest News- 19th May 2020

Links Between COVID-19 Related Needs of Stakeholders and One Health EJP Activities

Response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic imposed itself as an impelling priority, shifting many activities of public health organisations from planned tasks to response actions. Given the scale of the pandemic, animal health organisations have joined forces with public health organisations to contribute to human diagnostics.

As crucial as public health measures and diagnostics are, it is clear that more research is needed to understand and contain the spread of this pandemic, and to prevent similar ones in the future. Given the zoonotic origin of SARS-CoV-2, the application of a One Health approach is essential. Research priorities and knowledge gaps have been summarised by the WHO in R&D Blueprint coordinated Global Research Roadmap, by the OIE in the outcomes of the OIE ad hoc Group on COVID-19 and the human-animal interface, and by ECDC in their rapid risk assessments.

The One Health EJP pursues cross-sectoral and international collaboration and research and advocates a One Health approach and the “prevent-detect-response” concept. As a landmark partnership between 37 acclaimed food, veterinary and public health laboratories and institutes across Europe, it is in the perfect position to provide a major contribution to COVID-19 response and research. Moreover, as all the partner organisations have mandates from their national ministries or regional authorities, the consortium is in a privileged position when it comes to feeding back its outcomes to national and European risk assessors, risk managers and policy makers.

Emerging threats are a focus of the One Health EJP, and partner organisations reacted timely to the emergency: public health organisations were at the frontline, and animal health organisations rapidly followed to support large scale human diagnosis. Several projects of the One Health EJP (METASTAVA, Tele-VIR and MAD-Vir) focus on viruses, in particular on detection of novel emerging virus threats.

Given the vast number of European and international research projects currently being initiated on the topic of SARS-CoV-2, the One Health EJP recognises the importance of aligning its activities to European and international guidelines. To minimise the risk of duplication of efforts and maximise added value, alignment of One Health EJP activities to international guidelines is summarised and confirmed by this document.

The full document can be downloaded here and displays European and international priorities (general recommendations, and specific research needs and knowledge gaps) identified by scanning published documents of ECDC, EFSA, FAO, OIE and WHO, and how they are addressed in activities of the One Health EJP.

Latest News- 18th May 2020

COVID-19: the potential role of animals

In March, the One Health EJP reported on the potential role of animals and food in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (see Latest News- 18th March 2020). As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the world, the role of animals in the transmission of the virus has again become a focus of attention. There are many human and animal health institutes assisting in the outbreak, and many examples from the One Health EJP consortium have already been highlighted. Additionally, the FAO has recognised that a One Health approach should be established to increase diagnostic capabilities and the sharing of knowledge.

What role do animals play in the COVID-19 outbreak?

The WHO and OIE advice remains unchanged, that the predominant route of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is human to human transmission (1). However, there is currently lots of research on SARS-CoV-2 in animals, including reports of detection of SARS-CoV-2 in domestic animals such as cats and dogs that have been in contact with infected humans, and some unconfirmed experimental studies. However, more research is required to investigate this further and to determine if domestic animals can transmit the virus. In April, it was reported that tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.  These big cats were thought to have caught the infection from an asymptomatic zookeeper who has since tested positive (2,3). Additionally, in the Netherlands, two mink farms are home to mink that have tested positive for the virus. These animals are also thought to have been infected by infected employees at the farm. These incidence of human to animal transmission require a joint approach with farmers, zookeepers, veterinarians and veterinary laboratories. In the Netherlands research has begun to monitor the development of disease in the infected mink farms.

Next steps?

These findings are evidence that an integrated One Health approach should be adopted to further understand the transmission of this virus. This will help both the animal and human health sectors and aid in the epidemiology and understanding of SARS-CoV-2. The One Health EJP has already demonstrated its ability to use a One Health approach during this pandemic with both public health and veterinary laboratories combing efforts in the fight against SARS-CoV-2. For more information about this, read some of our previous Latest News posts!

More information:

More information regarding the role of animals in the COVID-19 outbreak can be found on the OIE website where they answer some key questions regarding the outbreak.

References:

  1. World Organisation for Animal Health, 2020, Questions and Answers on the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), date viewed: 07.04.2020, < https://www.oie.int/en/scientific-expertise/specific-information-and-recommendations/questions-and-answers-on-2019novel-coronavirus/?fbclid=IwAR1Tm_HOK6WWdNt0Lk8fm-_LUG0fZekoho3fanEHwQrxYJRUbW8uVj3Ehz0>
  2. BBC News, 2020, Coronavirus: Tiger at Bronx Zoo tests positive for Covid-19, date viewed: 07.04.2020, <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-52177586
  3. National Geographic, 2020, Seven more big cats test positive for the Coronavirus at Bronx Zoo, date viewed: 18.05.2020, <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/04/tiger-coronavirus-covid19-positive-test-bronx-zoo/>

Latest News- 30th April 2020

The One Health Commission, the OHEJP, and other groups are partnering with the World Health Organisation’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), to help build capacity for the global COVID-19 pandemic response.

The GOARN is a collaboration of over 200 institutions and networks that identifies experts willing and able to assist during an outbreak or pandemic in countries where they are needed most.

GOARN is seeking experts with a minimum of 5-yrs experience in relevant disciplines, including:

  • Anthropology
  • Case management
  • Communications and media
  • Data management
  • Epidemiology and surveillance
  • Infection prevention and control
  • Information management
  • Laboratory
  • Operational research
  • Operations manager
  • Outbreak research
  • Risk communications
  • Social mobilisation

Assistance can be provided through in-country deployment or remotely, such as assistance with training events, development or review of national guidelines/protocols/SOPs, specific pieces of analyses, communications, etc. If physically deployed, GOARN would support your deployment with flights, in-country living expenses, and medical insurance.

To be considered, please submit all required details including your CV, availability date range, and minimum and maximum duration for deployment here: GOARN Request for Assistance

Please spread the word!

For the official communication and more details click here.

Latest News- 10th April 2020

Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics: The Swedish National Veterinary Institute (SVA) analyses health care samples for SARS-CoV-2

Our world faces the COVID-19 global pandemic, and many One Health EJP consortium partners have key roles in managing the situation at national level across Europe.

For example, FAO has recognised that enormous processivity is needed for the diagnostic capacity required, and OIE has provided guidance for how veterinary laboratories can provide support. Veterinary laboratories have an extraordinary experience in the diagnosis of infectious diseases also in emergency situations and can therefore be tremendously supportive in this. In this series of ‘Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics’, we highlight how One Health co-operation has been established across Europe.

The Swedish National Veterinary Institute (SVA) has, in collaboration with two of Sweden’s county councils, started to analyse samples from the health care system for SARS-CoV-2.

“We aim to support Swedish health care as much as we can”, says Ann Lindberg, the Director General of SVA.

SVA is the largest veterinary laboratory in Sweden. The institute analyses over 400.000 diagnostic samples yearly, including several types of coronaviruses associated with animal disease. The work at the department of microbiology includes routine diagnostics in animal health care and surveillance, allowing large numbers of samples to be processed and analysed.

“The capacity at SVA regarding personnel, equipment and facilities is high and so is our competence, also from an international perspective” says Henrik Ericsson, Head of Department of Microbiology at SVA. By providing this service for Swedish healthcare, we will substantially contribute to an improved capacity of testing for SARS-CoV-2.

A collaboration agreement has now been established between SVA and two of the county councils. Samples are transported to SVA and analysed for SARS-CoV-2.

SVA provides expertise in zoonoses and has a well-established and close collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

“As an authority with a civil contingency function, SVA is part of the national preparedness for disruptions in the society. Naturally, we offer our knowledge and resources in the current situation” says Ann Lindberg, Director General.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not primarily an animal health issue, but the continuous preparedness at SVA regarding severe transmissible diseases in animals allows for a rapid increase of capacity in response to crises.

Click here for the original press release.

 

Latest News- 9th April 2020

Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics: Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Statens Serum Institut (SSI) are developing three new devices for the rapid diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2

Our world faces the COVID-19 global pandemic, and many One Health EJP consortium partners have key roles in managing the situation at national level across Europe.

For example, FAO has recognised that enormous processivity is needed for the diagnostic capacity required, and OIE has provided guidance for how veterinary laboratories can provide support. Veterinary laboratories have an extraordinary experience in the diagnosis of infectious diseases also in emergency situations and can therefore be tremendously supportive in this. In this series of ‘Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics’, we highlight how One Health co-operation has been established across Europe.

DTU and SSI are developing three new rapid instruments for on-site diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2. Two of these are scheduled to be ready for emergency use in Denmark by October. They will make the response of the health care system even more effective and ensure fewer people in quarantine.

Despite the DTU being recently shutdown, Professor Anders Wolff from DTU continues to work and leads the project “CoronaDX”, in which researchers are developing three new measuring instruments capable of performing fast on-site diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2. Professor Dang Duong Bang from DTU National Food Institute, who is part of the project, also keeps his laboratory open for business, and so does project partner, Professor Anders Fomsgaard who is the OHEJP MAD-ViR Project Leader and Chief of Virus Research & Development at SSI. Two out of the three instruments are scheduled to be ready for emergency use by October, when the next wave of COVID-19 is expected to hit Denmark. The third instrument is scheduled to be ready in March 2021.

With the new instruments, quarantine-affected people will be able to get an immediate diagnosis. If they are not infected, they can resume their normal lives and work right away, thus keeping the country running as normally as possible during the epidemic.

Under normal conditions, such a development would take several years, and Professor Anders Wolff from DTU Bioengineering, who heads the project, says that this project is developing unusually fast:

“It’s quite clear that the research community is acutely aware that this is a very special and serious situation, and we work together as colleagues across countries and organizations rather than as competitors. That is why there are so many publicly available RNA sequences for COVID-19, and that is one of the reasons we are able to work as fast as we currently do.”

The three new instruments measure in three different ways to recognise the virus, and the technology itself is the newest in the field. The researchers have very recently developed it in another EU funded project aimed at detecting diseases in poultry.

Click here for the full article and to find out more about these three new devices.

Latest News- 8th April 2020

Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics: Sciensano veterinary laboratories are contributing to COVID-19 testing in Belgium

Our world faces the COVID-19 global pandemic, and many One Health EJP consortium partners have key roles in managing the situation at national level across Europe.

For example, FAO has recognised that enormous processivity is needed for the diagnostic capacity required, and OIE has provided guidance for how veterinary laboratories can provide support. Veterinary laboratories have an extraordinary experience in the diagnosis of infectious diseases also in emergency situations and can therefore be tremendously supportive in this. In this series of ‘Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics’, we highlight how One Health co-operation has been established across Europe.

Sciensano, Belgium:

The veterinary laboratories at Sciensano are collaborating with other laboratories to increase the diagnostic capacity in Belgium in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Reference laboratories in Belgium have been testing for SARS-CoV-2 for a number of weeks. Now, in a step to take a One Health approach to the pandemic, Sciensano’s veterinary laboratories and pharmaceutical and other veterinary laboratories are now joining forces to increase the country’s diagnostic capability.

Experts at Sciensano will initially perform testing of approximately 100 samples per day, with capacity increasing in the coming weeks. This will contribute to more rapid diagnostics and a better understanding of the epidemiology of the disease.

For more information on Sciensano’s role in the COVID-19 response, click here.

Latest News- 3rd April 2020

Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics:

Our world faces the COVID-19 global pandemic, and many One Health EJP consortium partners have key roles in managing the situation at national level across Europe.

For example, FAO has recognised that enormous processivity is needed for the diagnostic capacity required. Veterinary laboratories have an extraordinary experience in the diagnosis of infectious diseases also in emergency situations and can therefore be tremendously supportive in this. In this series of ‘Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics’, we highlight how One Health co-operation has been established across Europe. 

VISAVET-UCM, Spain:

The Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) has setup a network of laboratories composed of different faculties (including the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine) and research centres (including the VISAVET Health Surveillance Centre) with the aim of helping the diagnosis of COVID-19 in this epidemic crisis, and in which specialists in health, infectious diseases and molecular biology from different research groups and UCM centres provide PCR equipment and staff.

The UCM has started the analysis of samples for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 where VISAVET is responsible for the reception and extraction of all RNA samples and other organisations as Saluvet Innova, the Antimicrobial Resistance Unit and Molecular Basis of Adaptation laboratories perform the identification by Real Time PCR.

Click here to read the full press release.

Latest News- 2nd April 2020

Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics:

Our world faces the COVID-19 global pandemic, and many One Health EJP consortium partners have key roles in managing the situation at national level across Europe.

For example, FAO has recognised that enormous processivity is needed for the diagnostic capacity required. Veterinary laboratories have an extraordinary experience in the diagnosis of infectious diseases also in emergency situations and can therefore be tremendously supportive in this. In this series of ‘Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics’, we highlight how One Health co-operation has been established across Europe. 

School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Surrey , UK:

A team of scientists at University of Surrey, Lancaster University and Brunel University are developing an easy point of care COVID-19 test, which can inform people if they have SARS-CoV-2 in just half an hour.

The proposed molecular test and smartphone app would allow people who are self-isolating test themselves, and allow health care workers test both patients and themselves – helping the UK to dramatically upscale its testing capacity.

The battery-operated and hand-held smart phone-linked device is highly cost effective and easy to use. It works by taking nasal or throat swabs, which are put into the device. Then in 30 minutes, it can determine if someone has SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak. The samples don’t need to go to a laboratory and the same device can test six people at once at a cost of around £4 per person.

Professor Roberto La Ragione, One Health EJP’s Work Package 6 Leader and Deputy Head of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey, said:

“We are delighted to be involved in the development of rapid diagnostic tools for COVID-19. With a fast response from manufacturers, we could deliver a point-of-care test kit to support mass-scale testing within the NHS and globally.” 

Click here to listen to the BBC Surrey Radio interview where Professor Roberto La Ragione

Click here to read the full press release.

Latest News- 1st April 2020

Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics:

Our world faces the COVID-19 global pandemic, and many One Health EJP consortium partners have key roles in managing the situation at national level across Europe.

For example, FAO has recognised that enormous processivity is needed for the diagnostic capacity required. Veterinary laboratories have an extraordinary experience in the diagnosis of infectious diseases also in emergency situations and can therefore be tremendously supportive in this. In this series of ‘Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics’, we highlight how One Health co-operation has been established across Europe. 

IZSAM, and IZSLER, Italy:

IZSAM and IZSLER are the among the first three Experimental Zooprophylactic Institutes in Italy that will give their diagnostic support to regions of Italy for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2. To date, an entire network of ten Italian IZS Institutes are engaged in providing diagnostic support.

Experimental Zooprophylactic Institutes that can provide this assistance must be equipped with “adequate structures for biological containment (BSL-3) and with proven analytical capacity in the continuous and significant use of diagnostic techniques applicable, even in emergency situations, for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV- 2”.

Dr. Giovanni Savini, the Head of the Complex Structure of Animal Health and the Virology Department of IZSAM, and the One Health EJP’s Scientific Steering Board representative for IZSAM, will be coordinating the diagnostic activity, and said:

“We are analysing about 150 samples per day. In the future, with the activation of another line of work, we will be able to process over 400 samples per day. In any case, the Institute is ready to change its work rhythms according to the indications of CREA, the Abruzzo Regional Emergency-Urgency Committee. We are currently analysing samples from the ASL of Teramo, working with the ASL of L’Aquila and have just been contacted by the ASL of Chieti…I would like to thank all the technicians and operators of our team and would also like to spend a few words on the Italian network of Experimental Zooprophylactic Institutes because, through diagnostic activities, they are supporting the National Health Service in this moment of emergency ”

For more information, read the full article here

Latest News- 31st March 2020

Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics: WBVR significantly increases the testing capacity in the Netherlands

Our world faces the COVID-19 global pandemic, and many One Health EJP consortium partners have key roles in managing the situation at national level across Europe.

For example, FAO has recognised that enormous processivity is needed for the diagnostic capacity required. Veterinary laboratories have an extraordinary experience in the diagnosis of infectious diseases also in emergency situations and can therefore be tremendously supportive in this. In this series of ‘Examples of One Health co-operation in COVID-19 diagnostics’, we highlight how One Health co-operation has been established across Europe.

Wageningen Bioveterinary Research, (WBVR) the Netherlands:

From 30th March 2020, the WBVR laboratory can carry out up to 1500 tests daily to determine whether an individual has been infected by SARS-CoV-2. The lab can test samples from patients, and a new device will be used which can drastically increase the number of tests performed. During normal working hours 500 tests can be done per day, but by working 24 hours a day this can be increased to 1500.

Minister Hugo de Jonge has informed the Dutch Parliament that approximately 2000 tests are performed daily in the Netherlands. Therefore, WBVR’s contribution will represent a significant expansion of the test capacity.

For more information on WBVR’s role in the COVID-19 response, click here.

Latest News- 18th March 2020

COVID-19: the potential role of animals and food in virus transmission

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of COVID-19. A One Health approach is needed to identify the roles of humans, domestic and wild animals, and the environment in transmission of this virus.   

 

Can humans acquire COVID-19 from an animal source?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that occur commonly in several animal species. However, these viruses are usually species-specific such as the canine coronavirus (CCV) in dogs [1] and the feline coronavirus (FCV) in cats [2]. Occasionally, humans can be infected with these viruses (zoonotic transmission) which may further spread to other people (human-to-human transmission). Examples of zoonotic transmissions include SARS-CoV, which is associated with civet cats [3] and horseshoe bats [4], and MERS-CoV which is transmitted by dromedaries [5]. To date, the possible initial animal source(s) of SARS-CoV-2 have not been confirmed.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises practising good food safety at all times.  Even if there are no indications that food is involved in the transmission of COVID-19, as a precautionary principle/attitude, consuming raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. [6].

 

Can humans catch COVID-19 from their pets?

According to the WHO, while there has been one instance of a dog being infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 is mainly spread from person to person, through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.

Click here to find the latest information on the basic protective measures each person is advised to take in order to protect themselves and others.

 

What do our experts conclude?

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), the One Health EJP lead co-ordinating institute, assembled an expert group that concluded that with the scientific knowledge currently available, there is currently no evidence that pets or livestock play a role in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 [7]. The One Health EJP will put specific focus on analysing this further. It is clear collaborative research efforts will be required to make the final conclusions.

Click here to read the full article.

 

References

1. Buonavoglia et al, 2006, Canine Coronavirus Highly Pathogenic for Dogs, Emerging Infectious Diseases, 12(3): 492-494

2. Druschel et al, 2011, Feline Coronavirus in Multicat Environments, Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 41(3):1133-1169

3. World Health Organisation, 2020, SARS (Severe Acute Respirator Syndrome), date viewed:16. 03.2020, < https://www.who.int/ith/diseases/sars/en/>

4. Hu et al, 2017, Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus, Plos Pathogens, 13(11): e1006698

5. World Health Organisation, 2019, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), date viewed:16. 03.2020, <https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/middle-east-respiratory-syndrome-coronavirus-(mers-cov)>

6. World Health Organisation, 2019,Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, date viewed:16. 03.2020, <https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 >

7. French Agency for Food, Environmental, and Occupational Health and Safety, 2020, COVID-19 cannot be transmitted by either farm animals or domestic animals, Date viewed:11.03.2020, <https://www.anses.fr/en/content/covid-19-cannot-be-transmitted-either-farm-animals-or-domestic-animals-0>

Latest News- 13th March 2020

COVID-19 is an emerging threat

The first reports of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Chinese city of Wuhan were made in late December 2019. Chinese authorities identified a novel coronavirus, which had not previously been identified in humans. The virus is presumed to originate from animals.

The COVID-19 outbreak is an emerging threat and is a rapidly evolving situation with ongoing outbreak investigations affecting countries all over the globe. After the first cases in Europe were confirmed in January 2020, the virus continues to spread rapidly throughout the continent.

Although human to human transmission has already been confirmed, further information is required on details about the transmission, potential animal reservoirs, environmental aspects, sources of infection, virulence, pathogenicity, and morbidity and mortality rates.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating global efforts in the fight against COVID-19, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is closely monitoring the outbreak and providing risk assessments to guide EU Member States and the European Commission in their response activities.

The One Health EJP’s response

The One Health European Joint Programme (OHEJP) has scientific expertise, a network of laboratories in public and animal health and a preferential link to the national and international authorities.

Addressing emerging threats aligns very closely with the OHEJP’s visions and goals and therefore the OHEJP is proactive in taking steps to add value to the existing knowledge currently available about COVID-19:

  1. The OHEJP funds and supports the activities of 29 research and integrative projects. Among them, the recent and current Joint Research Projects (JRPs) METASTAVA, Tele-VIR and MAD-Vir all include work on coronaviruses, focusing on detection of novel emerging threats with a specific focus on viral disease outbreaks.
  2. The joint integrative project COHESIVE is developing guidelines to support countries to approach the COVID-19 outbreak using a One Health approach.
  3. The OHEJP consortium members have wide extensive international networks outside of the EU which are of benefit for knowledge sharing in global emergencies such as this.
  4. The public health agencies in each country from our consortium are already involved in the national responses.
  5. A strength of the OHEJP consortium is that it can link the public health domain to the animal and environment health domains.
  6. The OHEJP understands the imminent need to address this current threat, and resource is currently being re-directed through an expert elicitation and prioritisation process to allow the consortium to respond where its strengths can have most benefit, aligning with Strategic Research Agenda.
  7. The OHEJP has a comprehensive selection of Education and Training activities as well as dissemination activities:
    • The programme for the OHEJP Annual Scientific Meeting Satellite Workshop on ‘Systems thinking’ has been adapted to use the COVID-19 outbreak as an example of what a new or emerging potential zoonoses can do and how it can impact human and animal health. In this workshop, we will inquire how signalling and response is organised in different countries, and who plays a role in the collaborative interactions necessary to deal with the threat using a One Health approach.  The workshop will use the COVID-19 outbreak as an example and use Wuhan as a starting point.
    • The OHEJP’s first CPD module on ‘Outbreak Preparedness’, a very timely and relevant course, has been adapted to include COVID-19 as a case study.
    • One of the Keynote talks at the OHEJP Annual Scientific Meeting will be on COVID-19.

Contacts

For more information, please contact:

Scientific Coordinator: Hein Imberechts (Sciensano)

METASTAVA Project Leader: Steven Van Borm (Sciensano)

TeleVIR Project Leader: Maiken W. Rosenstierne (SSI)

MAD-Vir Project Leader: Anders Fomsgaard (SSI)

COHESIVE Project Leader: Kitty Maassen (RIVM)

Latest News- 11th March 2020

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