The ongoing pandemic has focused the minds of all medical professionals on the challenges to public health posed by infectious disease.
As the doctors to multiple species, veterinarians are used to managing such health threats across large and diverse populations, including diseases that jump from wildlife to animals and people like Covid-19.
For veterinarians working in animal agriculture, for example, concepts like "lockdown", "social distancing" and "self-isolation" may have different terms but many of the principles are the same. And for years, these techniques - and communicating them in simple terms to clients such as farmers - have kept diseases like avian flu, salmonella and brucellosis in check.
As such, veterinarians should have a seat at the table not only in the response to the current pandemic but also when it comes to developing strategies for safely and comfortably living with the ongoing risk of disease the way that livestock farms do.
To begin with, veterinarians rely heavily on diagnostics to identify diseases as early as possible to minimise their spread and impact.
Just as public health authorities are beginning to prioritise mass Covid-19 testing among people, veterinarians routinely use diagnostic testing to identify infected or carrier animals to treat and isolate them.
Rigorous and early diagnostics mean that risk assessments can properly plan the necessary containment measures to limit the spread of disease within a farm or region.
As the public is learning with the threat of coronavirus, one of the biggest vectors for disease spread is movement or gathering within a population, so putting strategies in place around testing and quarantine are essential to reduce these risks.
Veterinarians have long applied these principles by relying on good hygiene practices and scientific research into disease spread to reduce infection rates. For example, many farms require new arrivals to undergo quarantines before entering, and create plans and protocols that reduce interactions with potential disease risks.
Secondly, veterinarians are acutely aware of the significance of underlying stressors or conditions that might exacerbate an infectious disease. To manage this, veterinarians employ ongoing good hygiene and immunity principles to also reduce infection pressure.
This begins with a clear understanding of animal behaviour and biology, followed by efforts to reduce health stress factors with optimal nutrition and environmental conditions.
In human populations, this might translate to reinforced public health policies around improved diets and regular exercise as well as tackling non-communicable diseases and conditions like diabetes and hypertension, which heighten the impact of disease.
Affecting behaviour change to improve public health requires effective communication, and as the gatekeepers of animal health, veterinarians are used to making complicated scientific concepts accessible to animal owners so they can follow best practices.
Finally, a huge part of veterinary medicine - just like in human medicine - is the use of vaccinations.
These precious medicines take time to develop, and they must then be used correctly across the at-risk population to provide maximum protection.
Animal vaccination has seen huge improvements in farmed animals as well as in pet health, including the successful development of several coronavirus vaccines for animals.
Leveraging this expertise and experience can help not only in the race to produce a Covid-19 vaccine but in developing inoculations that protect more animals and people against the diseases they share.
Until now, zoonotic diseases like Covid-19 have become major health emergencies only when they reach people. But the best way to prevent such outbreaks from occurring in the first place is to address them in animals and wildlife.
Veterinarians are using cutting-edge science and technology to keep our animals healthy, and there is growing recognition of the role this plays in maintaining robust public health.
So, if the world is to avoid future pandemics, it must invest in the policies, programmes and legislation that ensure the best animal health, and for this, veterinarians are essential.
Tommy Heffernan is a vet based in Co Wicklow