Russia approves first animal COVID vaccine to protect vulnerable species and thwart viral mutations

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Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

While many scientists say the virus causing covid-19 initially jumped from bats to humans, perhaps through another intermediary, infections have since been reported worldwide in animals, from zoos to mink farms.

It remains unclear how easily the virus can move between animals and humans. But after repeated outbreaks among minks at farms in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe, millions of the furry animals were killed precautionarily to cut any further transmission. Scientists have been particularly worried about mutated variants of the virus developing in minks and other animals going on to infect humans.

Russia has already approved three coronavirus vaccines for use in humans on an emergency basis. [Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance] deputy head Konstantin Savenkov said [March 31 that a new vaccine called Carnivak-Cov] would be the world’s first authorized for widespread animal inoculations.

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Scientists in Russia launched clinical trials in October and tested the vaccine on dogs, cats, foxes, including Arctic foxes, and minks, among other animals. Mass production of the vaccine could begin [this spring] according to Savenkov.

“The outcome of the research gives us grounds to conclude that the vaccine is safe and has strong immunogenic effect,” Savenkov said.

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