Russia has registered the world’s first vaccine for animals against COVID-19,its agricultural regulator said on Wednesday, after tests showed it generatedantibodies against the virus in dogs, cats, foxes and mink.

Mass production of the vaccine, called Carnivac-Cov, can start in April,regulator Rosselkhoznadzor said.

The World Health Organization has expressed concern over the transmission ofthe virus between humans and animals. The regulator said the vaccine would beable to protect vulnerable species and thwart viral mutations.

Russia has so far only registered two cases of COVID-19 among animals, both incats.

Denmark culled all 17 million mink on its farms last year after concludingthat a strain of the virus had passed from humans to mink and that mutatedstrains of the virus had then turned up among people.

Rosselkhoznadzor said Russian fur farms planned to buy the vaccine, along withbusinesses in Greece, Poland and Austria. Russia’s fur farm industry accountsfor around 3% of the global market, down from 30% in the Soviet era, accordingto the main trade body.

Alexander Gintsburg, head of the institute that developed Russia’s Sputnik Vhuman vaccine, was quoted in Izvestia newspaper on Monday as saying COVID-19was likely to hit animals next.

“The next stage of the epidemic is the infection with the coronavirus of farmand domestic animals,” Gintsburg said.

Some scientists say that cats and dogs do not play a major role intransmitting the coronavirus to humans and that their own symptoms are oftenmild if they contract COVID-19.

Clinical trials of the Russian animal vaccine began in October last year andinvolved dogs, cats, Arctic foxes, mink, foxes and other animals.

“The results of the trials allow us to conclude that the vaccine is safe andhighly immunogenic as all the vaccinated animals developed antibodies to thecoronavirus,” Konstantin Savenkov, Rosselkhoznadzor’s deputy head, said in thestatement.

The watchdog said the animals had continued to show an immune response for atleast six months since the trials began in October. It said it would continueto study the vaccine’s effect on the animals.

Rosselkhoznadzor did not say whether it had tested for COVID-19 in animals whohad developed antibodies after being vaccinated.

“The use of the vaccine, according to Russian researchers, can prevent thedevelopment of viral mutations, which most often occur during interspeciestransmission of the agent,” the watchdog said.

Russia already has three coronavirus vaccines for humans, the best known ofwhich is Sputnik V. Moscow has also given emergency approval to two others,EpiVacCorona and CoviVac.

Source: Reuters

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