MOSCOW – Russia has registered the world’s first vaccine against Covid-19 for animals, the Agriculture Authority said on Wednesday after tests showed it produced antibodies against the virus in dogs, cats, foxes and minks.
Mass production of the vaccine called Carnivac-Cov can begin in April, Rosselkhoznadzor said regulatory agency.
The World Health Organization has raised concerns about the transmission of the virus between humans and animals. Moscow regulators said the vaccine could protect endangered species and prevent virus mutations.
Russia has so far only registered two cases of Covid-19 in animals, both in cats.
Denmark killed all 17 million mink on its farms last year after it concluded that a strain of virus had passed from humans to mink and that mutant strains of the virus had then emerged among humans.
Rosselkhoznadzor said Russian fur farms were planning to buy the vaccine, along with companies in Greece, Poland and Austria. Russia’s fur farming industry accounts for around 3 percent of the world market, after 30 percent in the Soviet era, according to the most important trade organization.
Alexander Gintsburg, head of the institute that developed the Russian vaccine Sputnik V for humans, was quoted in the Izvestia newspaper on Monday that Covid-19 would likely hit animals next.
“The next stage of the epidemic is the infection of farm animals and pets with the coronavirus,” said Gintsburg.
Some scientists say that cats and dogs don’t play a huge role in transmitting the coronavirus to humans and that their own symptoms are often mild when they contract Covid-19.
Clinical trials of the Russian animal vaccine began last October and included dogs, cats, arctic foxes, minks, foxes and other animals.
“The results of the studies suggest that the vaccine is safe and highly immunogenic as all vaccinated animals developed antibodies to the coronavirus,” Konstantin Savenkov, deputy head of Rosselkhoznadzor, said in the statement.
The guard dog said the animals had shown an immune response for at least six months since the trials began in October. It said it would continue to study the effects of the vaccine on the animals.
Rosselkhoznadzor didn’t say whether it had tested for Covid-19 in animals that developed antibodies after vaccination.
“Using the vaccine can prevent the development of viral mutations, which are most common during the transfer of the active substance between species, according to Russian researchers,” said the watchdog.
Russia already has three human coronavirus vaccines, the most famous of which is Sputnik V. Moscow has also issued emergency clearances to two others, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac.