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SAFOSO and FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific organized two back-to-back virtual workshops to develop a tabletop African swine fever (ASF) simulation exercise for national-level adaptation for countries in the Asia and Pacific regions. With support from the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency and USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, the workshops were conducted in response to veterinarians in the region requesting further face-to-face training support to manage ASF in their countries.
In September 2021, SAFOSO and FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO RAP) organized a virtual feedback session to understand how FAO regional training on African swine fever (ASF) detection and emergency response has been applied in Asia. In the last two years, three rounds of the regional trainings were organized covering nine member countries. Five of the countries have been conducting trainings with veterinary staff at provincial and district levels on ASF detection and response. Even in the COVID-19 pandemic, the country teams succeeded in implementing the activity in a strict health protocol mode.
It has been suggested by scientists that the ASF pandemic may have indirectly contributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, since pork shortages in China may have led to increased farming and consumption of wildlife. This increase in live wildlife-human contacts may have increased the risk of spillover events, such as that which allowed SARS-CoV-2 to adapt to humans. Although the theory is interesting and has been substantiated through publication in Science magazine this August and in Nature last year, there is not enough scientific evidence at this time to link ASF directly to COVID-19.