Wildlife trade, COVID-19 and zoonotic disease risks: shaping the response

With COVID-19 cases, related human mortality and socio-economic disruption rising rapidly around the globe there are overwhelming reasons to concentrate on immediate emergency responses, the here and the now. People are dying, daily life is being fragmented, businesses are failing, families and communities are suffering and there is enormous uncertainty about when things will begin to improve, never mind emerge into some new normality. Beyond the reality of important operational challenges common to most organisations and businesses, the COVID-19 crisis has particularly poignant relevance for TRAFFIC and other organisations working in the field of wildlife trade. Although the origins of the disease are currently unproven, there are strong indications of a wild animal source and a direct link to wildlife trade in China. Specifically, a significant proportion of early cases in China involved people who had worked at or visited a market in Wuhan where wild animals were on sale and initial research results pointed to a possible transmission pathway from bats via pangolins to people.