Several orangutans and bonobos at the San Diego Zoo received an experimental COVID-19 vaccine designed specifically for animals. They mark the first known inhuman primates to receive the shot.
An orangutan named Karen, who went down in history as the world’s first monkey to have open heart surgery, was among those who received the vaccine, according to National Geographic.
Last month, Karen, along with three other orangutans and five bonobos at the zoo, received two doses of, which was developed by the veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis.
“This is not the norm. I have not had access to an experimental vaccine so early in my career and I have not had such an overwhelming desire to want to use one,”
In January, eight gorillas at the zoo became the world’s first great apes. They are now recovering.
Infections have also been confirmed in dogs,, ,, , lions and several other animals around the world. However, great apes are particularly troubling among conservationists.
All species of gorillas are listed as endangered or critically endangered in the IUCN Red List, with “susceptibility to disease” being one of the main threats. Infections spread rapidly among animals living in close family groups.
COVID-19 has the potential to destroy populations of gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos if humans do not take steps to prevent its spread, experts.
Zoetis began developing the COVID-19 vaccine for dogs and cats after the first dogin Hong Kong more than a year ago. In October, it was considered safe and effective, but the tests were performed only on dogs and cats.
Still, Lambersky decided that vaccinating the great apes was worth the risk. She told National Geographic that they had not suffered any side effects and would soon be tested for antibodies to determine if the shots were successful.
“It’s not like taking a vaccine at random and giving it a new look,” she said. “A lot of thought and research is concerned with this – what is the risk of doing it and what is the risk of not doing it. Our motto is above all not to cause harm.”
Lamberski said that because vaccines are made for a specific pathogen rather than a specific species, it is common to give a vaccine designed for one species to another. Monkeys at the zoo receive flu and measles vaccines designed for humans.
A spokesman for Zoetis told National Geographic that other American zoos have requested doses of the vaccine for their own monkeys. The company expects more to be available in June.
In addition, the company is currently conducting experiments with the mink vaccine – tens of thousands of which are.