Scarcity of monkeys could halt US vaccine development

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Vaccines for covid-19 that are still in the early stages of development in the United States may face an important obstacle to moving to the next stages: the lack of monkeys for testing. The scarcity of primates in the country was revealed this Monday (31), by The Atlantic magazine.

According to the publication, the difficulty in finding the animals is due to the closure of monkey exports by China, which was the largest supplier to researchers in the American market. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Asian country has stopped sending them, both because of the blockages to this type of trade and the needs of local scientists.

In this way, laboratories that are looking for monkeys to carry out immunization tests have obtained a “no” answer, needing to postpone work or look for alternatives. This happens, for example, at the California National Primate Research Center, one of the institutions responsible for supplying the animals.

“I have to say to them: Sorry, we are not allowed to start their research,” said infectious disease specialist Koen Van Rompay, in an interview with the vehicle, commenting on the demand.

The importance of monkeys for research

The huge demand for monkeys by companies that are developing vaccines against the new coronavirus is due to the fact that they have an immune system quite similar to that of humans. Therefore, clinical tests on people are released only after confirmation that immunization is safe for primates.

With their absence, some laboratories have chosen to skip testing on animals and apply the substance directly to humans, while others invest in the use of hamsters, provisionally.

And since there is no prediction of when this scarcity will end, some companies may need to think of new alternatives.


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