Coronavirus transmission has been associated with traditional wet markets.
Fèvre: The term “wet market” is sometimes misunderstood and laden with judgment. What are referred to as wet markets are really just a type of fresh food market. Selling low volume fresh food is also an essential way in which millions–perhaps billions–of people access affordable food on a day to day basis. To consider banning them would ignore their essential role in food security and in providing livelihoods to the people who supply them, often through informal market systems. More importantly, we might think about how they are managed; provide support and, where needed, legislation that ensures environments are more propitious to food safety and public health.
A related–but distinct–issue is the sale of wildlife products in such environments. It is important to ensure that illegal wildlife products are not sold in these markets, and this requires improved trade legislation and enforcement in some cases. However, preventing the sale of illegal wildlife should not be confused with banning the existence of the market itself.
The impact of COVID-19 has varied from one country to another. Why is this?
Fèvre: Populations in different countries and regions behave and interact differently and have different demographic characteristics. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, urban populations tend to be dominated by younger age groups, compared to cities in Europe. Social and economic interactions also vary, such that contact networks between people will exhibit very different patterns. And some regions of the world are far less globally connected than others, meaning fewer infected people entering those populations. Certain countries also took action to reduce the risk of transmission much earlier than others, preventing the early, rapid and silent spread of COVID-19 that occurred elsewhere.