After a significant drop in the number of COVID-19 cases during the summer of 2020, Europe is facing since October 2020 a terrific second epidemic wave reaching magnitude as worried and dramatic as the first wave that occurred between January and June 2020. Besides the dramatic health, social and economic consequences for most human populations throughout the world, SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to infect numerous animal species and the epidemic seems to spread among animals living near humans in worrying but largely unknown proportions. Since its spillover from wildlife in December 2019, SARS-CoV-2 infections of companion animals living near humans are increasing as the epidemic grows and spreads. However, the frequency of pet contaminations from their owners as well as the role these animals may play in COVID-19 epidemiology are still widely in debate, mainly due to the diversity of the results obtained from serological studies carried out to date, which are inconsistent even contradictory. Given that 290 million of companion animals (cats, dogs and other small mammals) are living near humans across Europe, the issue of SARS-CoV-2 infection of pets must be critically and urgently addressed.
The aim of the CoVet proposal is to investigate the potential transmission from humans to animals by conducting a large-scale and longitudinal serological survey of SARS-CoV-2 infections in companion animals along the ongoing second outbreak wave occurring in France. The study will be carried out between 2020 November to June 2021 and is expected to obtain approximatively 6500 samples from various animal species (dogs, cats and other small mammals) distributed homogeneously throughout France. This will be achieved by bringing together an interdisciplinary consortium of public and private partners, including veterinarians, virologists and experts in medical biology from the French national Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) at Montpellier, the International Center for Research in Infectious Diseases (CIRI) at Lyon, and the VEBIO laboratory, a referenced veterinary clinical pathology laboratory allowing an optimal recruitment of samples from every region of France.
The CoVet study will quickly provide reliable and useful information on the frequency of SARS-CoV-2 transmissions from human to their companion animals as well as on the differences in sensitivity between animal species. It will therefore rule on the need to implement a One-Health strategy in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monsieur Pierre BECQUART (Maladies Infectieuses et Vecteurs : Ecologie, Génétique, Evolution et Contrôle)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
MIVEGEC Maladies Infectieuses et Vecteurs : Ecologie, Génétique, Evolution et Contrôle
EVIR Enveloped viruses, vectors and innate responses
University of Caen
Help of the ANR 135,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2021 - 12 Months