2020: An insight into our scientific achievements from APHA

It is that time of year again when APHA produces a formal review of its science, this year looking back over 2020. You can read the review here on GOV.UK.

This summary review sets out a wide range of science highlights achieved in 2020 in support of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Science Strategy 2021-2026.

It shows the fantastic range of animal and plant health expertise within the agency and demonstrates the importance and value of linking our surveillance and research activities to rapidly investigate and respond to new threats; including those with potential public health impact. It also shows our key role in the protection of animal and plant health and animal welfare; our mission as one of the World’s leading research centres in animal and plant health.

The science highlights are grouped around our science portfolios as well as the main scientific disciplines working across APHA.

Some of the highlights include:

  • APHA’s UK National Reference Laboratory for Avian Virology and Mammalian Influenza has contributed to a torrent of outbreak investigations in 2020, enabling the national network of scientific expertise, laboratory testing, field staff and innovative approaches to respond to the highest level of bird flu outbreaks seen to date, in order to protect our poultry industry and the food that we eat.
  • APHA received the required Animal Test Certificate’s (ATC) approval from the VMD to proceed with field trials for the Cattle BCG vaccine and associated DIVA (Differentiating Infected amongst Vaccinated Animals) skin test. This is a highly complex programme of work to facilitate Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) response to the Godfray review (2020).
  • In preparation for the new EU Animal Health Regulations in 2021, Defra has assigned APHA as the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for 22 additional pathogens and Designated Laboratory (DL) for 4 additional pathogens, enhancing our visibility both nationally and internationally, and further raising our profile.
  • During 2020 APHA played a significant role in the COVID19 response within the UK, helping to set up and run key laboratories, develop new relationships with The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and rapidly innovate new testing approaches for COVID in humans and in animals. This work ensures that APHA, in collaboration with the whole of Government and academia, is contributing to a One Health approach to keep our nation secure and provide rapid world-class response in the event of future outbreaks.
  • The APHA Science Directorate published 29 science blogs and 212 peer reviewed papers across all our science portfolios in 2020. You can read about some of our 2020 blog highlights in our annual birthday blog.

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