Finding A Coronavirus Cure By Using Innocent Animals
Lab monkeys have been infected with a deadly strain of coronavirus in a bid to find a vaccine to halt the disease's path.
Rhesus macaques have been infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus and then given an experimental antiviral vaccine.
More than 2400 of the animals have been infected with the disease by scientists. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control estimates that the particular strain has already killed 910 humans. Symptoms of MERS include fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, with pneumonia, organ failure and septic shock often caused by the disease. Around 35% of those who contract it die, the World Health Organisation has said.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the vaccine stopped macaques contracting the disease when used in a preventative manner. Scientists now hopeful they can trial it with the COVID-19 strain of the disease.
The macaques study had one group of primates, housed at a lab in Hamilton, Montana, receive the drug 24 hours before infection with MERS-CoV. Another group were given the vaccine some 12 hours after infection and another control group did not receive any treatment.
They were then observed for six days, and those treated a day in advance showed no symptoms. The animals which were treated after infection had less damage done to their lungs than the control animals.
The scientists argue the results of the study acts as support for further clinical trials of remdesivir for COVID-19.
The RSPCA estimates thousands of monkeys, mainly macaques and marmosets, are used in research and testing.