Dear Member Representatives
We are living through an extraordinary event impacting the lives of people and their pets globally. In many countries across the world, life is changing daily as governments combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognized the potential impact on veterinary practices, pets and pet owners early on and our One Health, Scientific, Vaccination and Animal Wellness and Welfare Committees have been working hard to keep you informed via our Advisory and the creation of our COVID-19 Resource Hub – details below. We have also communicated with the media globally, reinforcing the message that there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be caught from our pets. Going forward we will also provide updates via e-shot when there is important news to share.
This week, a key issue faced by our members has been achieving recognition that our services fall into the category of essential medical care. Colleagues around the world report that they are delivering only emergency care under protocols for client and pet access to veterinary premises. In countries under ‘lock down’ it is vital that veterinary practices remain accessible for urgent medical care and we have joined other veterinary bodies in calling for governmental recognition of the essential service that we provide.
The science of COVID-19 progresses with the publication of papers describing the virus and its receptor and hypothesizing on the likely animal origin of SARS-COV-2 into the human population. In Hong Kong, where pets belonging to owners diagnosed with COVID-19 have been precautionarily quarantined, information has been released on the second dog diagnosed as positive after contact with an infected human owner. In an excellent response by Professor Malik Peiris, Chair in Virology, Hong Kong University, it has become clear that the second dog has also now tested negative for the virus by PCR. Professor Peiris has emphasized that although these two dogs might have been infected by the virus, neither had COVID-19 disease or was clinically ill. Professor Peiris has re-iterated the advice given previously that there is currently no evidence that dogs can transmit the virus to other dogs or to humans.
In response to questions from many of our colleagues, the Vaccination Guidelines Group has released a document giving advice the implications of not being able to access routine vaccination.
For colleagues in Brazil, where there has been confusion over the canine enteric coronavirus vaccine, Co-chair of our Scientifi Committee and VGG member, Professor Mary Marcondes, has produced a short video in Portuguese, explaining the differences between coronaviruses and why it is inappropriate to consider that the enteric coronavirus vaccine might be relevant to SARS-COV-2.
Both of these resources are available in the COVID-19 Resource Hub.
To end on a positive note, this week has also seen stories emerging of the veterinary profession co-ordinating the transfer of ventilators from veterinary to human hospitals to increase their capacity to deal with COVID-19 patients. This heart-warming response is an excellent example of the One Health philosophy that is so strongly supported by WSAVA.
I would like to thank my colleagues for their hard work in preparing the Advisory and COVID-19 Resource Hub and we hope they are useful to you in these challenging times.
Emeritus Professor Michael J. Day
Chairman, WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines Group
Executive Board Liaison, WSAVA One Health Committee
WSAVA Honorary Treasurer