The coronavirus can infect a wide variety of animal species, including cats, dogs and other pets. Should we then also vaccinate them?
In the future, it may be necessary to vaccinate pets such as cats and dogs against Covid-19 to contain the spread of the virus, warns a group of scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in England and the University of Minnesota in the United States.
In an article published in the journal Virulence, they write that the ongoing evolution of the virus in animals and its transmission to humans “poses a significant long-term risk to public health.”
“It is not inconceivable that vaccination of some domesticated animal species might be necessary to contain the spread of the infection,” say the researchers.
Last year, about 15 million minks were killed in Denmark after a mutant form of the virus was found to jump between the animals and humans. In June, outbreaks of the new corona virus were detected in numerous nurseries.
Vaccines for animals
Cock van Oosterhout (UEA), one of the authors and professor of evolutionary genetics, notes that dogs and cats can contract the virus, but that there are no known cases of the virus being transmitted to humans via these animals.
Still, according to the professor, it makes sense that we also develop vaccines for pets. “Just as a precautionary measure to reduce this risk,” says van Oosterhout. “As a human society, we really need to be prepared for every possibility when it comes to Covid.”
“The best way to do this, I think, is indeed to consider developing vaccines for animals as well,” he says. “Interestingly, the Russians have already started developing a vaccine for pets, about which little information is available.”
Professor Kevin Tyler (UEA), editor-in-chief of Virulence and co-author of the paper, wrote that although cats are asymptomatic, they can be infected by the virus and in turn can infect humans.
“The risk is that, as long as there are outbreaks, the virus, like the mink, will pass from animal to animal and then develop animal-specific strains,” he says, “but they will end up in humans and then in fact a new virus that is related and that is causing the whole story again. ”