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Editorial: Risk-Based Evidence for Animal Health Policy

Lisa A. Boden, Harriet K. Auty, Amy Delgado, John D. Grewar, Amy D. Hagerman, Thibaud Porphyre and George C. Russell

Infectious animal and zoonotic diseases are important and immediate global disease threats which exhaust resources and place demands on both national and international global animal and human health institutions and infrastructures. These diseases create challenges for industry stakeholders and policy-makers because of their pandemic potential and resultant widespread economic and social disruption. The current pandemic of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (disease name COVID-19), which was first detected in the wet markets of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, offers a contemporary example on which we might reflect about the lessons learned from this Research Topic—in particular, the importance of transparent data sharing and the development of risk-based evidence for policy-making for zoonotic disease outbreak preparedness and control. COVID-19 has now been detected in 188 international locations despite the closure of the wet markets and imposition of movement restrictions and other interventions to reduce risks of onward transmission. Risk management decisions in different countries [such as the imposition and subsequent release of social distance policies (1) and the introduction of compulsory mask-wearing (2)] are not purely (public health) science-based. The political, cultural, and societal dimensions of the pandemic have highlighted sharply the need to “remedy… disciplinary silos” (3) through holistic interdisciplinary approaches to understand the complex trade-offs and unintended consequences of disease control policies.

In this Research Topic, we wanted to explore the development of a robust and fit-for-purpose evidence base for animal (and public) health and the different mechanisms used to ensure its effective delivery to policy-makers in order to better anticipate and respond appropriately to existing and emerging animal and zoonotic disease risks. The response to the call for papers yielded 17 accepted papers with 112 contributing authors and the Research Topic has been accessed more than 25,000 times highlighting the importance and timely nature of these contributions. In this editorial, we identify 5 key lessons learned from these contributions and consider the future for risk-based policy-making for animal and public health.

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