Concerns over the transmission of COVID-19 are prompting some organizations and companies to vaccinate animals.
Several zoos across the country have begun vaccinating certain animals against the virus.
The Bronx Zoo reported in April 2020 that tigers and lions had tested positive for COVID-19. San Diego Zoo Safari Park reported that a gorilla troop had caught the virus a few months later.
In August of 2021, the Detroit Zoo began vaccinating animals deemed to be the most vulnerable to COVID-19, including gorillas, chimpanzees, tigers, and lions.
“At the Oakland Zoo, in California, 48 animals — including hyenas, chimpanzees, and mountain lions — have received at least one dose of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine made exclusively for animals. Half are already fully vaccinated,” per National Geographic.
According to Snopes, “since the early months of the pandemic, zoo animals have caught SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, though instances of such infections are rare.”
The CDC says that humans can pass the virus to animals.
“Zoetis, the animal pharmaceutical company that donated COVID vaccines for use in zoo animals says, they started working on a vaccine for cats and dogs, as soon as the virus was detected in a dog in Hong Kong in February 2020. And when and if the time comes they are prepared to [provide] vaccines [for] cats and dogs,” per CBS Detroit.
The company will send roughly 11,000 doses of the animal vaccine to more than 80 institutions in 27 states for free.
Christina Lood, Senior Director of Sustainability & Innovation Communications for Zoetis, said, “At this time the US Department of Agriculture and the CDC and other global regulatory bodies have determined that there’s not a need for … a COVID vaccine for cats and dogs.”
Mink farms have been particularly plagued by COVID-19, with over 12,000 minks having died from the virus at American fur farms.
Applied DNA Sciences Inc., “whose human COVID-19 vaccine was repurposed to treat cats,” has begun a trial intended to save the minks. However, their trial will involve ferrets “because uninfected mink are scarce,” says Newsday.
Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is not considering a commercial vaccination for animals.