Improve Health – One Health

The University of Guelph will introduce a first-of-its-kind Bachelor of One Health (BOH) degree program in fall 2022. Learn more:

 

[Soft music. Words appear on a black screen that read: “We long to return to normal but normal led to this. To avert the future pandemics we know are coming, we MUST grapple with all the ways that normal failed us.’ ~ Ed Yong, science journalist]

[Dr. Sarah Wooton is shown walking down a hallway, then wearing a mask while working with colleagues in a laboratory.]

Dr. Sarah Wooton, associate professor of pathobiology: So in January of 2020, I was teaching my fourth-year medical virology course. And I was aware that there was this new respiratory virus that was infecting people in China and spreading rather quickly. And so, as a class, we would watch this red dot in China get bigger and bigger and then these new red dots were showing up in all these other countries and we kept asking, when is it gonna show up in Canada?

[Dr. Maya Goldenberg is seen walking down a city street then sitting at a laptop in a garden]

Dr. Maya Goldenberg, associate professor of philosophy: I think my moment was when the virus jumped from China to Iran and Italy in very short succession.

[Dr. Katie Clow and 3 students wear coveralls while walking through tall grasses. Clow then speaks to an interviewer while sitting on a chair  in a field]

Dr. Katie Clow, associate professor of population medicine: I think the data became scary at the beginning of March where certainly more countries started to become affected, nothing was being done particularly aggressively at that time. And then the shutdown happened and it kind of became real.

Dr. Scott Weese is shown walking through the halls of the OVC Health Sciences Centre. He then speaks to an interviewer while sitting in a lab.]

Dr. Scott Weese, professor of pathobiology: We’ve always said, there’s a pandemic virus out there. It’s going to happen again. And we’ve seen examples andI think we got overconfident. We had SARS that was controlled. We had another coronavirus, MERS, Middle Eastern RespiratorySyndrome, that was controlled. And I think we’ve assumed that we can control things. And we’ve realized that we can’t.

Goldenberg: The planning that needed to be done before the disease came to our borders, did not seem to be done.

[Images of single people wearing masks, looking at camera, while on abandoned city streets. Wooton addresses interviewer while in a lab]

Wooton: I think people realize now that any infectious disease or emerging infectious disease can affect any part of the world. And also it can emerge from any type of species. I mean, who would have thought that MERS could be transmitted from bats to camels to people. So, you can’t rule out any animal species and you can’t rule out the fact that it can affect any part of the world.

[Words appear on a black screen that read: To prevent future pandemics, the University of Guelph is using a OneHealth approach]

Clow in voiceover over graphic of human, animal and environmental health icons: One Health, to me, is a collaborative approach among multiple disciplines, as well as other societal actors, so community members, potentially politicians, those in industries, and essentially looking at complex or wicked problems that occur at the intersection of human, animal and environmental health.

Wootton in voiceover over graphic of farmland: Zoonotic infections are a prime example of the One Health concept. We are destroying habitat, and that means that humans and animals are coming into closer contact. The more you destroy the habitat, the more likely you are to have this interaction. And then, you know, again, it could transmit human-to-human.

Weese in voiceover over images of workers in labs examining blood samples: This pandemic’s also showing how we need this broad intersect or approach to infectious diseases. It can’t just be medicine and veterinary medicine, and it can’t just be science. It has to be a social science, its behaviour. The bigger challenges we’re dealing with now are things like vaccine hesitancy.

Goldenberg over images of her book, “Vaccine Hesitancy” and images of lab workers: I understand vaccine hesitancy to stem from mistrust. If we don’t have buy-in from the public, if they don’t trust the product, if they don’t trust the policy makers and the providers, then the best vaccines may never make it into people’s arms.

We have a lot of access to media and many of us have a lot of time to spend on the internet. And we got to see the mess of science, what it looks like before
things are established, before things are settled. There will be people that say, “You see, the scientists don’t know what they’re talking about”. When it might be the case that they are changing their directives in light of new evidence, and that’s a sign of good science.

Clow over images of the U of G campus and her students setting out tick nets in a field:  I found the University of Guelph to be extraordinarily collaborative, a really a great environment to build relationships and do work with other researchers outside of your own discipline.

I think we also have a really unique combination of expertise here. We have the veterinary college and One Health has really taken leadership out of the veterinary field. We have the agricultural college, strong biological sciences, strong environmental focus, and then really strong social science, which is incredibly
important when we think about the entire One Health approach.

Wootton over images of lab workers: Our research actually has expanded considerably after we demonstrated that our vaccine platform works against SARS-CoV-2. This is actually kind of taking the One Health approach and flipping it on its side. We’re taking an animal pathogen and turning it into a benign vaccine vector, which can protect humans. But interestingly, we can also use this vaccine to vaccinate production animals.

Ziyad Elgamal, master student in pathobiology: Optimizing this vaccine platform, I first and foremost, feel grateful and honoured to be a part of this team. The University of Guelph plays a significant role in the prevention of the next pandemic. Just incorporating or being a part of One Health is the first step towards that.

Weese speaking to camera over images petting and walking his dog:  My work just deals with infectious diseases and we’re always on the lookout for something new. We really focus on that interface between humans and animals. So we track current diseases, we track what we think are emerging diseases and we track things that are just unusual.

Clow over more slow-mo images of her students in the field: I think my research can help us prepare for the next pandemic in really providing more evidence and continuing the conversation on how important the environment and environmental health and wildlife health are in preventing any kind of disease event that we might see.

Goldenberg: Health requires this kind of broad perspective. And there isn’t one discipline or one researcher that can bring in all the necessary perspectives and all the necessary tools.

Clow: I think if we reflect on the entire situation with the pandemic and embrace a One Health approach in our pandemic preparedness, we can be prepared for the next one.

[Soft music fades as the U of G One Health Institute logo appears, followed by the U of G Improve Life logo.]