Our Hub comprises some of the world’s leading experts in global health security, zoonotic disease surveillance and outbreak response. Our core work concerns poultry food systems, one aspect of this focusing on the potential for future pandemics originating in these systems. There is much we can learn from the current COVID-19 pandemic. There is also much our researchers have been able to contribute to the response to the current one. In particular, their experience, knowledge and skills have been furthering our understanding of the SARS CoV-2 virus and contributing to the practical thinking and discussions on lessons learned and how we move forward.

Our COVID-19 related activities include:

Poultry industry impact

Studies are being conducted in Bangladesh and in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu in India to assess how the pandemic and pandemic control measures have affected the production, distribution and consumption of different types of chickens and eggs, as well as to explore adaptations and innovations developed by stakeholders. The impact of COVID-19 related rumours, and how these have been constructed and spread, is a particular focus of the research.

Phylodynamic investigations

Hub partners are active in researching the transmission and evolutionary dynamics of SARS CoV-2. Researchers at the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute, Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre,  University of Oxford and the RVC, in collaboration with Public Health England, have generated and are analysing SARS CoV-2 sequences from Gujarat, Bangladesh and the UK to understand the epidemic dynamics in these regions.

Modelling

Hub researchers in the Evolutionary Ecology of Infectious Disease group at University of Oxford have been using modelling to explore aspects of the pandemic, including:

  • exercises demonstrating that models informed by early outbreak data can be compatible with numerous transmission scenarios, thus contributing to the debate around the UK’s early response;
  • the possible role of cross-immunity provided by endemic coronaviruses in the spread and clinical profile of SARS-CoV-2;
  • how the host’s time to seroconversion influences how much seroprevalence reflects true exposure at the population level; and
  • the effects of time since SARS-CoV-2 symptoms onset on PCR sensitivity and specificity.

Advocating a One Health approach

Hub members have contributed to national and international decision-making by sitting on high-level committees and other fora, publishing articles, speaking to the media and taking part in webinars and other public events as they advocate a One Health approach as a way both out of this pandemic and to minimise risk of further zoonotic disease outbreaks.