Animal Health Sector Actions on COVID-19
April 8, 2020
The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented public health crisis creating hardships for communities everywhere — the medical challenges, the isolation, the economic pressures, the strains on everyday goods and more. At the same time, it is heartening to see people around the country stepping up in response. Medical personnel saving lives, farms ramping up production to keep us fed, food retailers continuing to serve customers, and everyday people working together to protect their neighbors.
This crisis requires action from all in order to protect our future. The Animal Health Institute and our Members, manufacturers of veterinary medicines, diagnostics and animal health products, are taking responsibility in the response.
This document outlines where we are acting now to support the animal health community and wider world in this difficult time. But it is only the start.
We are committed to building on this work, continuing to help those around us and working together to help with the eventual recovery. The Animal Health sector is playing its part in this fight.
Limiting the Spread
Across our companies we are acting to protect our employees and change practices to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
All companies are adopting or expanding telework policies and providing employees with virtual meeting tools. Staff are also provided regular information about social distancing, self-protection and well-being to encourage them to be safe during this crisis.
For positions that cannot be completed remotely, such as work in manufacturing facilities, companies have strengthened practices to protect workers. These vary by company but can include:
- Staggering work schedules to limit the number of people present at any time
- Temperature checks for employees entering facilities
- Providing disinfectants and ‘sanitization stations’ at key points throughout facilities
- Increasing the number of regular, disinfecting deep cleans of facilities
- Expanding communal spaces (e.g. lunchrooms) to allow employees to distance from one another
- Limiting visits to critical service providers and implementing strict biosecurity for these providers.
Companies also recognize our responsibility to customers, which is why many are restricting or halting visits to veterinary customers and offering new ways to meet via phone, video, and the web.
Supporting those in Need
The Animal Health sector is built on science, research and manufacturing, and our tools and knowledge can support those on the frontlines of COVID-19:
- Bayer is allowing employees with a medical background to take leaves of absence to support their local health system.
- Boehringer Ingelheim helped the Red Cross Foundation provide protective equipment to hospitals and supports employees through donation matching to COVID-19 causes in the U.S.
- CEVA Sante Animal has loaned diagnostic equipment to a pathology lab to help them expand their ability to process COVID-19 tests.
- Colorado Serum Company is helping to meet the need for additional COVID-19 tests by providing serums to entities developing test kits for the virus while also providing veterinary biologics to the livestock sector.
- Elanco is supporting foodbanks and programs to feed schoolchildren and donating supplies to hospitals and first responders.
- Merck is donating protective equipment and other supplies in hard hit areas, enabling employees with health care backgrounds to take leave to support the COVID-19 response, and assessing internally available antiviral candidates and vaccine assets for potential to impact COVID-19.
- Phibro Animal Health donations are supporting healthcare worker access to protective equipment, childcare and food support for low-income families, and its facilities are now producing sanitizers for hospitals and first responders.
- Virbac is working with the local authorities to supply anti-inflammatory and anesthetic products to hospitals and donating masks to local medical facilities.
- Zoetis is donating hand sanitizer, masks and gloves to customers to help them continue to provide essential services.
These activities are only a selection of work happening in the sector and more can be found on company websites.
Easing the Strain of Isolation
Across the world, increasing numbers of people are confined to their home. As authorities have reported – this can create anxiety, stress and fear in many people, which is why pets are often an invaluable source of comfort during this difficult time.
AHI Members are working to ensure animal health products remain accessible to veterinarians and pet owners by actively managing supply chains and advocating for animal health and animal identification production to be considered ‘essential critical infrastructure’ to maintain supply continuity.
Pet owners are relying on their animals right now, and these steps will help ensure their animals can receive necessary care during this crisis.
Strengthening our Food Supply
Farmers and veterinarians continue to show an incredible resilience in the face of this crisis, continuing to produce and distribute the milk, meat, eggs and fish needed by Americans who are more reliant on the ability to keep shelves and refrigerators at home stocked with food.
The Animal Health sector is supporting efforts by livestock and poultry producers by working to prevent shortages and maintain distribution of veterinary medicines. Companies are also in daily contact directly with governments and customers to address any issues before they become a problem.