First batch of anti-COVID jab for animals ready in Russia

Several Russian regions will soon receive the first doses of Carnivac-Cov, the world’s first vaccine to protect animals from COVID-19. Vaccination of animals is intended not only to protect vulnerable species but also to reduce the risk of mutations of the virus due to interspecific transmission.

Russia has produced the world’s first batch of COVID-19 vaccines for animals, says Reuters citing the country’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor). The batch, which consists of 17,000 doses, will be supplied to several regions of Russia, said Rosselkhoznadzor in a statement.

The Russian agricultural regulator also said that companies from Germany, Greece, Poland, Austria, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Lebanon, Iran and Argentina had expressed interest in purchasing the vaccine. “About 20 organisations are ready to negotiate registration and supply of the vaccine to their countries. The file for registration abroad, in particular in the European Union, is under preparation and will be promptly used for the registration process,” reads the statement.

The vaccine called Carnivac-Cov was registered in March after tests showed its effectiveness for dogs, cats, foxes and mink. According to the regulator, animals have continued to show an immune response for at least six months since the beginning of clinical trials in October 2020. “The results of the trials allow us to conclude that the vaccine is safe and highly immunogenic, as all the vaccinated animals developed antibodies to the coronavirus,” said deputy head of Rosselkhoznadzor Konstantin Savenkov in March.

The World Health Organization has expressed concerns about the risk of transmission of the virus between humans and animals. In 2020, Denmark had to cull the entire 17-million mink population on its farms, as a strain of the virus had earlier passed from humans to mink and then back to people. Russian fur farm industry, which accounts for around 3% of the global market, planned to buy the vaccine, according to earlier announcements of Rosselkhoznadzor.

At the end of March, Director of the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology Alexander Gintsburg stated that COVID-19 was likely to hit animals next. “The next stage of the epidemic is the infection with the coronavirus of farm and domestic animals,” he said. Some other scientists believe that cats and dogs do not play a major role in transmitting the coronavirus to humans, while their own COVID-19 symptoms are often mild.

By Anna Litvina