COVID Vaccine For Animals Developed, Will Launch April

Russia has registered the world's first COVID vaccine for animals, which could be rolled out as early as April.

The country's agriculture safety watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, said on Wednesday the drug's development followed clinical trials that started last October on dogs, cats, Arctic foxes, minks, foxes and other animals.

The watchdog's deputy head Konstantin Savenkov told reporters that the vaccine, Carnivak-Cov, "is the world's first and only product for preventing COVID-19 in animals," according to news agency TASS.

He said research had shown the vaccine was safe and effective because all vaccinated animals developed antibodies to the novel coronavirus.

Savenkov added that the jab was estimated to be effective for "no less than six months" and its mass production could begin as early as April, the agency reported. The announcement did not specify which animals the drug will work on.

COVID vaccine animals
A veterinary nurse prepares a dog for surgery. Russia has just announced the development of the world's first COVID vaccine for animals. Getty Images

There has been interest in the Russian animal vaccine in Greece, Poland, Austria and the United States, according to Savenkov.

Alexander Gintsburg, heads of the Gamaleya Institute that developed Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, warned this week that animals would be the next front line in the battle against the coronavirus, especially given the proximity of people to their pets.

"The coronavirus has not yet realized its pathogenic potential. The next stage is the infection of farm and domestic animals," he told the newspaper Izvestia.

Last year, Denmark ordered a mass cull of mink because of the spread of coronavirus. Meanwhile, COVID infection in cats has been recorded in Moscow and the Tyumen region of west Siberia.

Savenkov emphasized that there was no evidence of the novel coronavirus being transmitted from animals to humans, as repeatedly stated by the World Health Organization.

However, he added that animals could contract other coronaviruses. Russian research found that the new vaccine "can prevent further mutations of the virus, which often occur during the inter-specific transmission of the pathogen," he said.

Russia was the first country to announce it had developed a coronavirus vaccine, with Sputnik V registered in August to much fanfare from the Kremlin.

Although the jab's fast-track development prompted concerns, its later reviews have been positive. Russian authorities have given emergency approval to two other jabs: EpiVacCorona, which was registered in October 2020, and CoviVac, registered in February.

Russia started a mass vaccination program in December and has rejected a second lockdown despite a rise in infection numbers in the past few weeks.

As of Wednesday, Russia has recorded 4,545,095 cases of COVID-19 and 98,850 deaths, according to the national coronavirus information center. The death toll published by state statistics agency Rosstat is higher, however, standing at more than 130,000.

The graphic below provided by Statista shows global COVID vaccination rates.

COVID-19 vaccination rate worldwide

This story has been updated.

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