At the San Diego, California Zoo, nine great apes have been vaccinated against the new coronavirus with an experimental vaccine. The “New York Times” (NYT) reported on Thursday. According to this, four orangutans and five bonobo monkeys would have received a dose. The vaccine is from the veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis and is not suitable for use in humans. It was originally developed for pets and is currently also being tested on minks, according to a press release from the manufacturer.
In January, a group of gorillas in the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park tested positive for the coronavirus. Everyone is recovering from the infection. Nevertheless, the zoo asked the pharmaceutical manufacturer.
Scientists worry that virus will spread to wildlife
Infections in great apes are a cause for concern for zoos and conservationists. Because the animals are easily victims of human respiratory infections. According to the New York Times, simple cold viruses have already caused fatal outbreaks among wild chimpanzees in Africa. Genome research has also shown that chimpanzees, gorillas and other great apes are also susceptible to the new coronavirus.
But infections in great apes could not only pose a threat to the animals. According to the NYT, scientists also fear that the virus could spread to wild animal populations and find permanent home. From there it could then jump back to humans at a later point in time.
A prominent example of this is the mink population in Denmark, where a new mutation of the virus had emerged. This is said to have been more resistant to antibodies – which is why the Danish government culled all 17 million animals.