CGIAR COVID Hub Focus: Integrating a One Health Approach to COVID-19 Responses


The origins of COVID-19 and other recent zoonotic epidemics link the research themes of human, animal and environment health: the three tenets of One Health. CGIAR researchers are using integrated modeling to provide policy recommendations and address urgent issues on the role of agriculture in spreading zoonoses and how we can avoid future crossover events. This work is being conducted collaboratively across CGIAR centers, leveraging expertise throughout the system for a collective good through:

  1. Addressing urgent One Health issues such as de-risking agricultural hotspots by using conventional epidemiology such as surveillance and surveys, case-control studies, geospatial mapping/modelling at the country level in both animal and human populations and possible intervention trials, paying particular attention to migrant labor and agricultural processing plants.Better understanding transmission dynamics of coronaviruses will also help avoid future cross-over events. To achieve this, researchers are working to integrate lessons from COVID-19 and other recent emerging infectious diseases, drawing upon evidence-based syntheses of risks and benefits of fresh food markets and bushmeat/wildlife farming, including the potential impacts of banning wild meat. These include health risks of wild meat black markets and nutritional impact on forest-dependent communities. They are also using evidence-based syntheses on the impacts of land use changes on the interface of wildlife with livestock and humans and subsequent implications for disease emergence.
  2. Developing integrated impact modelling of health, epidemiology, economics and agri-food systems utilizes a collaboration between IFPRI’s economic modelers and the health modelers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). These models will move beyond generic indicators of reducing contact rates to more specific transmission indicators of varying policy actions, such as social distancing. Moving forward, researchers will draw on the robust communications channels established with countries to anticipate policy questions expected over the next six to 12 months and address these from a health, agri-food and economic modelling perspective. This will include a more comprehensive and multi-disciplinary account of the poverty effects of ill-health and ill-health effects of poverty, including via diet, non-communicable diseases, and behavior.

As a result of efforts in this area, researchers are developing evidence-based recommendations for agricultural practitioners, labor employers, and others on exactly which parts of the process are high-risk and how to de-risk the process. They are also gathering and synthesizing evidence on the risks, benefits and consequences of management and regulation of fresh food markets and bushmeat or wildlife farming, with special attention to gender and equity.

To inform decisions on suppressing economic activity to control transmission, build capacity, and deliver additional lessons for subsequent waves and epidemics, CGIAR researchers are developing both linked health, economic and agri-food models and scientific papers. They will apply lessons with real-world examples to conduct model integration for country-specific results and recommendations.

Members of the working group Integrating a One Health Approach to COVID-19 Response include:

Research in this area targets goals outlined in the One Health research pillar of the CGIAR COVID-19 Hub. Learn more about CGIAR work on COVID-19 here or by contacting us at


Recent work on integrating a One Health approach to COVID-19 response from across CGIAR:


Video: CGIAR Soundbites on COVID-19 and One Health

In this recording of a June 2020 presentation, A4NH Director John McDermott and CRP Livestock Director Tom Randolph discuss how CGIAR research is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic from a One Health perspective.

Report: Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic Diseases and How to Break the Chain of Transmission

This report from ILRI and the United Nations Environment Program focuses specifically on the environmental side of the zoonotic dimension of disease outbreaks during the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to fill a critical knowledge gap and provide policymakers with a better understanding of the context and nature of potential future zoonotic disease outbreaks.

Read the report (PDF 20MB)

Policy seminar: COVID-19, food systems, ecosystems, and the risk of zoonotic diseases

This policy seminar convened by IFPRI addressed critical questions on the interactions between ecosystems, food systems, and public health.

Watch the seminar

Op-Ed: ILRI scientist discusses his experiences with the WHO team investigating COVID-19 origins

Researcher Hung Nguyen, who also co-chairs the CGIAR COVID-19 Hub working group on One Health, was invited to join the team that traveled to China, bringing his expertise in wet markets and food safety to the work. In this op-ed in The Telegraph, he reflects on lessons that can be learned.

Read the op-ed.

Read this earlier blog post on his experiences

Paper: Zoonotic Pathogens in Urban Animals: Enough Research to Protect the Health of the Urban Population?

Researchers from ILRI systematically analyzed publication databases and grey literature to quantify the studies conducted on zoonoses in urban animals with respect to the geographic distribution, the host animal and pathogens.

Read their findings

Brief: The Economic Value of the Wildlife Trade in Vietnam

The wildlife trade represents a significant source of income and employment across Vietnam. This brief details the challenges facing that sector, and explores why a well-functioning, transparent and accountable monitoring and evaluation system, combined with financial support for research on legal and illegal trading, especially in the context of Covid-19, are essential for effective
wildlife conservation in the country.

Read the brief

Blog: Earth’s Land Use Crisis is Also a Global Health Crisis

In this post, from researchers at the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land, and Ecosystems address the need for a transformation in the ways we approach food systems, land management, and stewardship of our Earth in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the post