Cats and dogs should next line up for Covid vaccinations once all people are vaccinated, ministers have been told.
According to experts, vaccinating pets can help stop the development and spread of variants, reports the mirror.
Labor Sir Mark Hendrick said: “Covid may have started in bats. The priority is to vaccinate people, but a year or so later we have to look at animal vaccines. “
And Kevin Tyler, editor of Virulence magazine, added, “Mutations could make people look very different.
“A significantly different variant could become a problem in the future. The best way to deal with this could be vaccines. “
Although a cat in the UK tested positive last July after contracting the virus from its owner, animal-to-human transmission is rare.
The British Veterinary Association recommends that owners wash their hands after touching pets if the virus is on their fur.
Russia developed the first animal-specific vaccine that was successfully tested on cats and dogs, and a US company is also working on one.
Independent SAGE virologist Prof. Deenan Pillay said, “The current vaccines for non-human species may need adaptation.”
Denmark killed its 17 million minks after finding a mutant coronavirus on fur farms, and ferrets infected cats in laboratory tests.
A tiger in New York’s Bronx Zoo and eight gorillas in the San Diego Zoo are said to have caught the virus from animal keepers.
Environment Minister Victoria Prentis said there was no evidence of infected farm animals and no current schedule for pet vaccinations.
But she added, “If biology changes such that pets become important in transmission, we’ll rethink it.”
Sir Mark added, “The more we exploit the world, the more likely it is to bite us back.”