Professor Joanne Santini’s article about pets transmitting Covid-19 in The Lancet Microbe?

At the date of this post, the media keep mentioning it: Professor Joanne Santini’s article about pets transmitting Covid-19 in The Lancet Microbe. But when you take the time and trouble to verify things by visiting The Lancet Microbe website and use their search engine you can’t find it. It appears not to exist. And if it does exist it is next to useless because all she and her colleagues are saying is the obvious. I am told in news media articles that she suggests that more research needs to be done on the number of cats and dogs infected with Covid-19 in the UK and how efficiently they transmit it to people.

Prof Santini. Image: PoC.

It is probably worth doing. However, there have been so few confirmed cases (through testing) of pets contracting the virus globally that you have to ask if it is worth the trouble. You can count the number of cats getting the virus on one hand, worldwide. On the face of it they are unimportant. What Santini is probably saying is that the true infection rate could be much higher, in which case cats and dogs may be having a current and genuine impact on the spread of the disease – unlikely however.

For me the trouble is that she is stating the obvious and the news media get hold of these scientific statements and blow them up to mean something which was not intended. It gives the impression that cats and dogs are a problem when we don’t know that.

Also being a bit cynical, scientists like to raise their public profile in anyway they can to further their careers. You can’t blame them but it’s done rather carelessly in terms of cat and dog welfare. Some cat and dog owners are less then responsible. They react badly to ideas that their pet might be a source of an invisible killer (Covid-19 is nowhere near as deadly as many believe it is).

My message to Prof Santini: where is your article/statement on The Lancet Microbe? Perhaps it is not published yet and the media have seen a pre-release. I suspect that that is what has happened. In which case it’s sloppy behavior.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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