Russia has registered the world’s first coronavirus vaccine for dogs, cats, minks, foxes and other animals, the country’s agriculture safety watchdog said Wednesday.
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. Rosselkhoznadzor deputy head Konstantin Savenkov said Wednesday that this would be the world’s first authorized for widespread animal inoculations.
The vaccine could be mass produced as soon as April, although the agency did not say when it would be on the market.
“Carnivak-Cov, a sorbate inactivated vaccine against the coronavirus infection … is the world’s first and only product for preventing covid-19 in animals,” Savenkov told Tass News.
Two U.S. companies, New Jersey-based veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis and the South Dakota-based Medgene Labs, have also been developing coronavirus vaccines for use among minks and other animals.
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 in April, 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.
The vaccine is expected to produce antibody resistance that lasts at least six months.
Savenkov told Tass News that “domestic animal-breeding enterprises and commercial firms from Greece, Poland and Austria” are planning to purchase the vaccine, while companies from the United States, Canada and Singapore, among others, have expressed interest in it.
Russia’s coronavirus vaccine for humans have so far not been approved for use in the United States or Europe.
Earlier this year Zoetis’s vaccine was administered on a trial-basis to nine infected apes at a San Diego zoo. They have since recovered.