Tuesday 5 July 2022

Animals need jabs against zoonotic diseases to prevent pandemics

Zoonotic diseases are those which can transfer from animals to people. The classic case is the Covid pandemic. Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert, the creator of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid which proved so successful and which saved millions of lives, has stated that vaccines and new treatment should be developed to protect animals against diseases that can prove deadly when they jump to humans.

Vaccines against these zoonotic diseases could play a major role in avoiding the next pandemic. Minds are focused on the next pandemic. The monkeypox virus which is currently an issue in the UK is a good example although that will not create a pandemic. However, it's a virus that has been a threat for a long time and it has changed its nature. And it is zoonotic.

Gilbert said that influenza A was around in wild birds for a long time and it started to infect poultry flocks and so I could still spill over into humans. She believes that there is a lot that can be done to protect domestic animals against these infections to avoid humans being exposed to them.

Of course, this also concerns cats and dogs as well as livestock. Covid did infect both captive wild cats and relatively a very few domestic cats. There was a discussion at one time about the possibility of domestic animals creating a reservoir for the virus which may then come back to us in the future perhaps mutated.

There is a need to look forward to prevent the devastation that Covid caused the world. There is also a need, I must add, to demand that the Chinese government compensate the world for the devastation that they caused due to their careless approach to the slaughter of wild animals at wet markets which is now accepted as one plausible cause of the pandemic because those markets allowed the transmission of zoonotic diseases from animals such as pangolins to the people in the market is doing the slaughtering.

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