Great Apes Became The First Animals To Receive Covid-19 Vaccine

We all know which is the first country to vaccinate humans against covid but do you know which country is the first to inoculate apes? It’s the United States where an orangutan named Karen became the first ape in the world to get the covid-19 vaccine.

Yes, you read it right even apes are the beneficiaries of the covid-19 vaccine and the reason is the rising cases in the San Diego Zoo of the US, according to a National Geographic report.

First Signs Of Covid-19 In Apes

There is no boundary when it comes to covid-19 but there is very little evidence of infection spreading to humans via animals. However, it can spread from animal to animal the case of San Diego Zoo is the proof.

san diego zoo

Mild symptoms of covid such as coughing and runny noses were first seen in a 49-year old gorilla of the zoo who also had pneumonia and suffers from heart disease. Probably, the infection was spread by a zoo worker with a positive test report.

Zoo informed a wildlife care specialist about his condition following which a Health officer from Global Conservation and Wildlife was sent for the diagnosis.

Infected gorilla, Winston showed recovery soon but 8 fresh cases were reported in the zoo, back in January. However, the gorillas recovered fully by February. This incident is sending alarming signs not only to the zoo owner but to the world. The chances of other gorillas getting infected are more because these human-primitives live in close family groups like humans. Thus, there is a need of vaccine for apes as well.

The First Company To Produce Vaccine For Animals

The American Drug Company, Zoetis has came front and developed a vaccine for animal use. It is one of the largest companies who manufacture products for animal care.

covid-19 vaccine for animals

Vaccine developed by Zoetis was first given to Karen in February making her the first non-human to get corona virus vaccine. She is also the first ape who underwent open-heart surgery 27 years ago.

After her, three more orangutans were vaccinated including 5 pygmy chimpanzees called bonobos. Other animals in San Diego Zoo are also at the risk but scientists are more concerned about apes. The reason is the larger number of gorillas living in the wild and it’s not just about apes but the concern is same for other animals like lions, tigers, dogs, and cats.

Zoetis has already developed a vaccine for cats and dogs since the first case highlighted in February 2020 in Hong Kong. The vaccine is safe for use on these two common species however its effectiveness on apes is still unknown.

Thus, blood samples of apes are collected and sent for tests to measure the effectiveness of the vaccine. Health officer Lambersiki said the decision to give the vaccine to apes was made after a lot of research so that no animal is the harm in the process.

She further said that if the vaccine is safe for one species, chances of it being effective on others are there because specific pathogens are involved in the vaccine. But a lot of research is still needed and more and more data is required to reach any conclusion.

Once the trials show successful results, the vaccine will be made available for commercial use in protecting animals across the globe from covid-19.

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