Dogs and cats may need Covid vaccine, say Norfolk scientists
- Credit: Ian Burt
Norfolk scientists have said Covid vaccinations may need to be given to our pets.
A joint study by experts from the University of East Anglia (UEA), the Earlham Institute and the University of Minnesota has revealed that Covid-19 can affect a wide variety of animals, including dogs and cats.
"It is not unthinkable that vaccination of some domesticated animal species might be necessary to curb the spread of the infection," they wrote in an editorial for the journal Virulence.
Cock van Oosterhout, professor of evolutionary genetics at UEA, was one of the authors.
He said cats and dogs are able to contract the virus, but there are currently no known cases of this affecting humans.
It comes after Denmark culled millions of mink last year to curb the spread of the disease after a new strain had transferred from them to humans.
Prof van Oosterhout said: "It makes sense to develop vaccines for pets, for domestic animals, just as a precaution to reduce this risk.
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"What we need to be as a human society, we really need to be prepared for any eventuality when it comes to Covid.
"I think the best way to do this is indeed consider development of vaccines for animals as well.
"Interestingly the Russians have already started to develop a vaccine for pets, which there’s very little information about."
Kevin Tyler, editor-in-chief of Virulence, added: “Cats are asymptomatic but they are infected by it and they can infect humans with it.
"The risk is that, as long as there are these reservoirs, that it starts to pass, as it did in the mink, from animal to animal, and then starts to evolve animal-specific strains, but then they spill back into the human population and you end up essentially with a new virus which is related, which causes the whole thing all over again."
Prof van Oosterhout and Prof Tyler wrote the Virulence editorial alongside Neil Hall, director of the Norwich-based Earlham Institute, and Hinh Ly of the University of Minnesota.