As of October 25, the US veterinary authorities had registered 290 confirmed cases of animals with covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, of the 100 cats and 89 dogs.
Covid-19 killed Ekundu this month, a lion who was infected with the virus at the zoo where he lived in Hawaii (USA) and perhaps could have been saved with a vaccine, still in an experimental phase, designed specifically for animals and much less known than human vaccines
“When we learned about the first dog infected with covid-19, a case that occurred in Hong Kong in 2020 (in February), we immediately began to work on a vaccine that could be used in animals,” Mahesh Kumar, senior vice president of Global Biology of the American company Zoetis, the world’s largest producer of medicines and vaccines for pets and livestock.
According to Kumar, in eight months they carried out the initial safety studies and then presented the vaccine at the 2020 edition of the World One Health Congress, an event in which the transmission of diseases between humans and animals is studied in the context of their social factors. and environmental.
At this time, the Zoetis vaccine is not marketed and its experimental use is only authorized on a case-by-case basis by veterinary authorities in the US Department of Agriculture.
Zoetis has donated doses of the vaccine to almost 70 zoos and a dozen reserves, sanctuaries, and academic and government institutions spread over 27 US states, according to a spokesperson for the company, which is based in Parsippany (Nueva Sweater).
The company does not provide information about its donors, but it did announce that it had helped the San Diego Zoo (southern California) when several of its great apes became infected with covid-19.
ALMOST 300 INFLUENCED CAPTIVE PETS AND ANIMALS
As of October 25, the US veterinary authorities had registered 290 confirmed cases of animals with covid-19 in the country since the beginning of the pandemic, including 100 cats and 89 dogs.
They are followed by lions, with 35 cases, tigers (31), farm minks (17), gorillas (13), snow leopards (11), otters (7), and then isolated cases in ferrets, pumas, and coatis, according to the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
In most cases registered in zoos or reserves, sick animals have been cured shortly after receiving treatment, according to these institutions.
Ekundu was not so lucky, perhaps because, as with humans, the weakest find it more difficult to resist the onslaught of covid-19.
He was 13 years old, the only male lion at the Honololu Zoo, and suffered from a chronic illness for five years that had caused him epilepsy, according to the director of the center, Linda Santos, when announcing his death this week.
Like Ekundu, the lioness Moxy, with whom he lived in the same enclosure and had three children, began to show symptoms of respiratory disease in early October and also tested positive for covid-19.
But Moxy responded to treatment and is on the mend, according to the zoo.
SEARCHING FOR VACCINES
Honolulu Zoo authorities announced that after the death of Ekundu, who was born in 2007 and arrived in Hawaii in 2010, they have stepped up prevention measures and are trying to find vaccines for their animals.
“We continue to receive many requests for our covid-19 vaccine for animals and we must abide by the regulations of each country. We are looking for opportunities to help zoos and other animal organizations from outside the United States protect them. yours, “said the spokeswoman.
The Zoetis experimental vaccine is formulated only for animals.
The virus or antigen is the same as in human vaccines, but the carrier or adjuvant used is different.
“The special combination of antigen and adjuvant ensures safety and efficacy for the species to which the vaccine is administered. The adjuvant in Zoetis has been shown to be safe for many animal species,” says the company.
The senior vice president of Zoetis told Efe that “fortunately at present the vaccine against covid-19 is not needed for pets or livestock” and showed his pride in being able to help animals at risk of being infected in zoos.
“Now more than ever before the covid-19 pandemic has focused on the important connection between animal health and human health. We continue to monitor if infectious diseases arise that can impact animals and people as well.”
Mike McFarland, Zoetis Chief Medical Officer, is proud of the company’s “innovative research and development work” by helping “veterinarians in the zoo community deliver high-level care to primates, felines, and many other species “.
Last April the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report on the origin of covid-19, in which four possible theories are pointed out, including that of the laboratory accident, which the agency considered the least likely.
Peter Embarek, head of the WHO team and other agencies that visited Wuhan (China) in early 2021 to study the origin of the coronavirus, has said that the covid-19 could begin after a researcher from a laboratory in that Chinese city become infected with a bat.