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Using veterinary expertise
  1. Anthony H Andrews, veterinary consultant
  1. Acorn House, 25 Mardley Hill, Welwyn, Hertfordshire AL6 0TT
  1. email: andrewsah{at}

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The letter from Alex Donaldson ‘Does wearing masks offer protection against viruses?’ (VR, 8/15 August 2020, vol 187, p 119) possibly contains a subliminal admonishment within it for the human medical community.

Scientific method normally means that a question is asked, a complete literature review is undertaken concerning the subject and the relevant original papers consulted. It is not unusual in these days of search engines for some researchers to confine their search to the publications surfaced by this means. In consequence, a wealth of potential pertinent material is overlooked, leading to a waste of time, money and resources.

In addition, I believe that most veterinarians and those concerned with animals and their health subscribe to the principle of One Health. However, at times one does wonder how much this same principle is accepted and, more importantly, acted upon by those involved in human health, especially at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Most veterinary surgeons in the field, especially in large animal practice, have dealt with – and still deal with – major problems of an infectious or contagious nature, and are perhaps the real experts in disease control. They could provide valuable background practical information about many of the questions that have been asked during the Covid-19 pandemic. These include isolation, quarantine, movements of infected and susceptible hosts, droplet and aerosol spread, separation distances, asymptomatic infections, potential carriers, testing, immunity and resistance formation and their potential protective effects.

In addition, veterinarians have suggested other methods to tackle the outbreak (VR, 18/25 April 2020, vol 186, pp 446–448, 462–463), looked at different approaches to vaccine production (VR, 28 March 2020, vol 186, p 388; 4/11 April 2020, vol 186, p 419), and several have shown their considerable expertise in the practical control and potential elimination of epidemic diseases as well as the potential origins of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Mainly this expertise appears not to have been taken up and our knowledge has fallen on deaf ears within the human medical community.

I realise that eight months into this Covid-19 pandemic some veterinary institutions are now becoming increasingly involved, but the full potential of the veterinary resource has not been properly used.

The full potential of the veterinary resource has not been properly used

Hopefully, if there is ever another pandemic then the considerable expertise of the veterinary and animal science community will be recognised.

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