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pdf IP055: Risks of COVID-19 to Antarctic Wildlife


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IP055: Risks of COVID-19 to Antarctic Wildlife

ATCM XLIII and CEP XXIII 2021, Paris, France / Online

Information Paper

IP055: Risks of COVID-19 to Antarctic Wildlife

Submitted: 12 May 2021


In 2020, the Antarctic Wildlife Health Monitoring Working Group of the SCAR Expert Group on Birds and Marine Mammals (EG-BAMM) assessed the risk of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak to Antarctic wildlife. Based on the scientific literature about the structure and function of SARS-CoV-2 as well as its stability in different environmental conditions, and taking into consideration information available on other viruses in Antarctic wildlife, a risk assessment was conducted to examine whether SARS-CoV-2 could survive in the Antarctic environment and be transmitted from humans to wildlife (and vice-versa) and if so, whether Antarctic wildlife could be susceptible to the virus.

The findings from this study were published in the journal Science of the Total Environment and followed up by two publications in the outreach platform The Conversation. This Information Paper highlights the vulnerability of Antarctic wildlife to novel viruses, our limited knowledge and understanding of infectious diseases in Antarctic wildlife, and the potential risks posed by human activity on the Antarctic continent.


ATCM - Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting
CEP - Committee for Environmental Protection
43rd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting
14 - 24 June 2021