Covid-19 should not be used against animal production

As it has been sadly noted in recent months, many have exploited the emergency due to the coronavirus to attack the livestock sector. The appeal of Professor Hans Nauwynck is therefore very important: do not use Covid-19 against animal production.

Domesticated livestock is highly unlikely to be the route through which coronavirus reached people.” The message from Professor Hans Nauwynck, director of the Laboratory of Virology within the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Ghent, is loud and clear. It is aimed at ideologists who have been doing everything to convince the public that coronavirus is due to farms, and becomes a strong appeal to the European Commission not to exploit Covid-19 against animal production, a primary sector that ensures food for all of us and that should be protected rather than demolished.

The first results show that #livestock cannot be infected with #Covid19; it is therefore very unlikely that the #coronavirus reached people through #livestock. Click To Tweet

Of all the businesses impacted by the coronavirus epidemic, European farms are among the most vulnerable, as well as the most essential, explains the professor in his appeal released by Euronews. At a time when demand for safe and affordable food is increasing, the pandemic has dramatically limited the work of agricultural operators and consequently stopped processing operations on livestock farms.

Of all the #businesses affected by the #coronavirus epidemic, European #farms are among the most vulnerable, as well as the most essential. Click To Tweet

In addition to these difficulties, there are also attempts to use Covid-19 as a “Trojan horse” to influence EU policy and undermine animal production, by falsely linking the outbreak of the pandemic with modern farming practices, which are already very often the subject of disinformation. This connection is not scientifically confirmed, clarifies the professor since coronavirus – like SARS, Ebola, and almost three-quarters of the infectious animal-borne diseases – was not created on a farm, but most likely originated in wildlife.

Animal-source foods such as meat, milk, and eggs, present on the shelves of shops and supermarkets thanks to the constant work (despite the limitations, risks, and difficulties in times of global pandemic) of supply chains too easily accused by those who are not part of them, offer countless advantages and benefits in terms of energy and nutrients, and in Europe, their safety is guaranteed by rigorous animal health standards. Attempts to limit livestock production are therefore useless, indeed counterproductive.

The #coronavirus - like #SARS, #Ebola and almost three quarters of the infectious #diseases transmitted by #animals - was not created in #breeding, but in the #Wildlife. Click To Tweet

Vaccines and biosecurity measures, such as indoor confinement, are increasingly effective in protecting animals in Europe from both existing and emerging diseases. Moreover, veterinary medicine has been more successful than human medicine at tackling diseases, given many of these protective steps are easier to implement for animals than for humans.

Vaccination is also at the heart of Europe’s success in managing animal disease risk. In fact, it can be carried out en masse to have maximum impact and thus produce herd immunity. Vaccination has allowed most European countries to control prevalent and endemic diseases, such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome and porcine circovirus-associated diseases. It has even been possible to totally eradicate some viruses in certain areas, such as Aujeszky’s disease, swine vesicular disease, and hog cholera, thanks to further biosecurity measures including improvement of hygiene and decontamination processes.

Keeping #animals indoor can be essential in defending their #health and #wellness, as our #StayHome has been vital in protecting us from the #coronavirus. Click To Tweet

When it comes to new animal diseases emerging from wild animals, such as African swine fever or avian flu, housing animals indoor with filtered ventilation systems protect them from interactions with wildlife and thus from the risk of disease. Although this approach is often unfairly criticized, keeping animals indoor can be essential for defending their health and well-being, in the same way, that our “stay at home” during the lockdown was vital for protecting us against coronavirus.

Human medicine can learn a lot from the way the livestock industry screens animals and compartmentalizes regions to limit the spread of diseases, only allowing movement of animals within an area designated as “disease-free”. This principle can be applied when travel restrictions are lifted and “immunity passports” are used to monitor animal movements.

Human #medicine can learn a lot from the way the #livestock industry controls #animals and limits the spread of #diseases. Click To Tweet

Veterinary medicine in Europe has made huge progress in protecting animal and consumer health. The circumstances that caused the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic find their cause elsewhere, such as the relationship between people with wildlife and their natural environment.

Despite the interested or ideological attacks they receive, animal production plays a key role in this ecosystem of global health, and there is insufficient evidence that intensive animal production alone is the source of these outbreaks. This means there are no good reasons to make the activity of livestock farmers even more difficult than it already is.


The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.