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COVID-19 Portal


Expert groups and guidance

In the framework of the OIE Incident Management System, several expert ad hoc Expert Groups have been established.

Permanent Working Group

Ad hoc Groups



COVID-19 and the animal-human interface

Safe trade in animals and animal products


Advises on investigations into the possible role of animals
as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 and in zoonotic transmission


Sub-Advisory Groups

Advisory Group on animal health surveillance


Informs and advises the OIE on all health problems relating to wild animals, whether in the wild or in captivity

Convened as needed to advise on specific topics related to SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals and the veterinary public health response

Develops high-level consideration based available scientific evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals

Monitors new knowledge related to SARS-CoV-2 that may affect risks to human health or animal health associated with international trade in animals or animal products

Resources available to date

Statement Wildlife Trade and Emerging Zoonotic Diseases
(April 2020)


Guidance on Veterinary Laboratory Support to the Public Health Response for COVID-19

(Arabic - Russian)

Considerations for sampling, testing, and reporting of SARS-CoV-2 in animals
(English V1.1 - Russian V1)

Considerations on the application of sanitary measures for international trade related to COVID-19



Guidelines for Working with Free-Ranging Wild Mammals in the Era of the COVID-19 Pandemic


Guidance on Working with farmed animals of  species susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2 (English and Russian)

Technical Factsheet on Infection of animals with SARS-CoV-2

GLEWS+ Risk Assessment on SARS-CoV-2 and animals used in fur farming  (Russian - Chinese - Arabic)

Report of April 2020

Report of Dec.2020-Feb.2021 - international trade in mink skins

In January, under the leadership of the OIE Wildlife Working Group, the OIE mobilised an expert group to provide scientific advice and to develop guidelines on a range of topics linked to human-animal-ecosystems interface aspects of COVID-19. These include identifying research priorities, communicating results of on-going research in animals, developing scientific opinions on the implications of COVID-19 for animal health and veterinary public health, and providing practical guidance for Veterinary Services. Subsequently an expert group was established to assess the risks and implications of COVID-19 for safe trade in animals and animal products.

The OIE developed high-level guidance on testing human specimens for COVID-19 in veterinary laboratories to support public health services in meeting the extraordinary demand in testing, which has been a critical aspect to the pandemic response in many countries.

Following widespread human infection, several species of animals have also been infected with SARS-CoV-2. As well as ensuring the international dissemination of officially approved information on such events, the OIE developed guidance on the rationale for testing animals to support public and animal health risk assessment and risk management.

While international trade has been heavily challenged, the OIE has called countries not to take sanitary restrictions linked to COVID-19 unless there is scientific justification for doing so, based on a risk assessment. Facilitating safe trade of animals and animal products, in line with OIE Standards, is indeed crucial to avoid the interruption of food chains for the most vulnerable populations.

In April, acknowledging the possible wildlife origin of SARS-CoV-2 and citing several other recent significant disease spill over events at the human-animal-ecosystems interface, the OIE Wildlife Working Group issued a statement on Wildlife Trade and Emerging Zoonotic Diseases. It highlights that several recent disease events, including SARS and Ebola virus, have resulted in severe socio-economic crises as a consequence of spill over events stemming from poorly regulated wildlife trade. Wildlife trade is highly complex and carries both risks and benefits. Thus, there is a need to support legal, sustainable and responsible wildlife use by providing sound guidance, standards, risk assessment and risk management tools. The Wildlife Working Group called for action to reduce risk of future spill over events whilst promoting welfare and biodiversity.

In January 2021, a risk assessment was developed by GLEWS+ on SARS-CoV-2 and animals used in fur farming. This Tripartite assessment conducted by FAO, the OIE and WHO, focuses on fur farms and Mustelidae, the only farmed species that has reported the presence of SARS-CoV-2 to date. The spread of SARS-CoV-2 in fur farms impacts animal health and animal welfare, and poses a risk of spill over to native wildlife which may affect the biodiversity of species. The presence of this virus in mink farms may also have an important impact on public health and economic well-being contributing to widespread socioeconomic disruption. This risk assessment is conducted at a regional level to assess the overall risk of introduction and spread of SARS-CoV-2 within the fur farms, the spill over from fur farms to humans, and the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from fur farmed animals to susceptible wildlife populations.

Looking to the future, the OIE has initiated an ambitious work programme in consultation with its Wildlife Working Group, its Members and international partners. The objective of the Wildlife Health Management programme is to reduce and manage risks of spill over events between wildlife, livestock and humans, whilst ensuring the protection of biodiversity. Although the origin of the virus causing COVID-19 has not been confirmed yet, it is highly suspected to have emanated from wildlife. The OIE is working on new developments to increase good practices in wildlife trade and facilitate the implementation of integrated wildlife surveillance systems, as well as to improve knowledge on viruses circulating in wildlife through research. This work aims to produce new guidelines, and if necessary international standards, which will cover transportation, capture, farming, marketing, and consumption of wildlife, and to raise awareness on best practices.

The OIE remains committed to timely communicate verified science-based information to the international community as new knowledge comes to light.

Our experts speak

Dr William B. Karesh, USA

Working Group | Wildlife

Dr Misheck Mulumba, South Africa

Ad hoc Group | COVID-19 and the human-animal interface

Dr Cristóbal Zepeda, USA

Ad hoc Group | COVID-19 and safe trade in animals
and animal products

Prof. Ann Cullinane, Ireland

Advisory Group | COVID-19 and animal health laboratories


Outputs of expert meetings

The OIE ad hoc Group on COVID-19 at the animal-human interface has been keeping the OIE updated on investigations into the potential role of animals and other matters of relevance. For the minutes of the consultations with the group please see:

The FAO-OIE Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 evolution in animals advises FAO and OIE on risks related to the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 (through mutation or recombination) in animal populations and liaises with WHO viral evolution group. For the minutes of the consultations with the group please see:


Additional resources

Reducing public health risks associated with the sale of live wild animals of mammalian species in traditional food markets | Interim guidance (OIE, WHO, UNEP)