WAAVP Newsletter – Update on WAAVP 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Our world is unrecognisable from the one we lived in at the time of WAAVP 2019. The havoc wreaked by COVID-19 has impacted on all of our lives. It is possible that some of you reading this will have lost loved ones in the pandemic, and certain that there will have been serious illness among your wider circle. In parallel, though this is trivial by comparison, conferences have been cancelled, universities have scrambled to transfer their teaching and assessment online, businesses have closed or restructured their workforces, and researchers have volunteered to assist in testing efforts and/or refocussed their research to assist in the COVID-19 fightback.

The future remains uncertain, and it seems overwhelmingly likely that the societal and economic aftershocks of the pandemic will be long-lasting. In this scenario, the prospect of attending an international conference in 2021 is conceivably both enticing, and not top of your agenda.

However, there are multiple reasons to believe that WAAVP 2021 and other scientific meetings will be important milestones in the world’s recovery. The emergence of Sars-CoV-2 illustrates in stark detail the potential for emerging infectious diseases to cross the species barrier, and for zoonoses to develop humanhuman transmission. The One Health paradigm, along with the dangers of disrupting ecosystems and wildlife populations, has become even more important in the post-COVID-19 world. The importance of multi-disciplinary interactions of scientists, policy-makers and citizens in calibrating and implementing the response to this seismic event is clear. And it is humbling to realise, in spite of all our scientific progress, that there is so much we have yet to learn about a small enveloped betacoronavirus with a genome of about 30,000 base pairs.

In this context, the theme of “Parasitologists without Borders” for WAAVP 2021 retains its relevance. We are continuing to plan for the Conference in Dublin, 18th-22nd July, 2021, and have already issued initial invitations to a number of eminent and diverse invited speakers. Their response has been fantastic and enthusiastic. In parallel, sponsorship pledges have been manifest, and our PCO partners Keynote, now working remotely like many of us, have been doing a great job in keeping the preparations on track. We remain committed to organising a conference that showcases the best science, policy and industry interfaces, as well as promoting family-friendly attendance and sustainability. Among the sessions will be a Foresight Workshop – on The Future of Veterinary Parasitology. Please do take a look at our website, www.WAAVP2021.com which will be updated regularly, sign up for mailings, and let us know of your suggestions and wishlists.

Looking forward to meeting you all soon,

With best wishes,
Grace Mulcahy, Chair, Local Organising Committee, WAAVP2021