Over the holiday weekend, The Buffalo News published an opinion article authored by Americans for Medical Progress. It highlights the many ways animal research “saved our skins” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic:
Here’s an excerpt:
Animal studies helped scientists develop safe and effective vaccines in record time. However, it may surprise many to learn that much of the research that laid the groundwork for these lifesaving shots did not take place in 2020.
Some of the biggest breakthroughs occurred several decades ago, in the 1990s. That’s when critical proof-of-concept studies in rodents demonstrated how snippets of messenger RNA (or mRNA) could be used to teach the body how to fight off infectious diseases. Why is this so exciting? Because one of the major benefits of mRNA-based vaccines is that they can be very quickly adapted to fight viruses, even emerging ones, like SARS-CoV-2. This is one of the reasons why the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were developed so rapidly. Shots are going into arms and countless lives are being saved daily thanks in great part to research in mice and rats three decades ago.
But that’s not all.
The full opinion article can be found at this link.
Sometimes research organizations assume expanding communications about animal research (aka increased transparency) will invite unwanted attention. However, this assumption rarely rings true. In fact, there are significant downsides to minimal engagement about the use of animals in health studies. Doing so provides animal research opponents with the increased ability to define animal studies and many times, mislead the public.
AMP believes both public and private science organizations need to be the leading authority on animal studies. This is necessary in order to prevent increasing efforts to hamper or end critical health studies altogether. Furthermore, we believe one of the best ways for research organizations to reduce risk and build public support is to strategically employ advocacy and learning initiatives. Below are a few suggestions:
Launch Dedicated Webpages
Several institutions that have been targeted in the past have learned comprehensive communications to proactively address activist claims are helpful. For example, many institutions have launched webpages aimed at explaining and illustrating the important role of animals in research. As a result, these organizations have witnessed a reduction in animal activism successes. Here are some items to consider for webpages focused on the need for animal studies:
- General information about the role of animal research in improving the health of humans and animals alike.
- Examples of diseases/discovery areas being researched by the institution where the use of animals is necessary.
- A continually expanding list of university press releases where advancements feature the use of animals.
- Details about the many systems in place to ensure animals receive high quality care.
- Images that help illustrate the organization’s commitment to the welfare of research animals.
AMP can provide several examples of effective websites created to communicate about the need for animal studies. Contact us if we can be of assistance.
AMP recently learned of this news story published in The Dominion Post, the Morgantown, West Virginia newspaper. The article demonstrates the deep commitment of universities like West Virginia University to the welfare of their research animals while studies are taking place and even afterwards.
Thanks to reporter Gabriella Brown and The Dominion Post for allowing us to reprint this outstanding story.
Migrating South for Retirement: WVU Research Pigeon Moved to Florida Sanctuary
by Gabriella Brown, The Dominion Post – May 2, 2021
Mr. Grey the retired white-crowned research pigeon is living his life in paradise after having a bit of help making the journey south for retirement.
“I wanted to do something special for him,” said Samantha Glaspell, a registered veterinary technician at West Virginia University. “I used to work with a local humane society, so it’s always a good story for them to get a different path of life.”
According to a new 120-page report from the World Health Organization, the novel coronavirus likely spread to humans from an animal. But experts say the topic requires more study. The new report also says the disease likely started to spread amongst humans no more than a month or two before it was identified in December of 2019.
As for the source of the infections, no conclusive answer has been found as of yet, but the following possibilities were listed in order of likelihood, according to the international team of investigators:
- Direct zoonotic spillover is considered to be a possible-to-likely pathway;
- Introduction through an intermediate host is considered to be a likely to very likely pathway;
- Introduction through cold/ food chain products is considered a possible pathway;
- Introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway.
A combination antibody therapy developed by Eli Lilly to fight COVID-19 has received emergency use authorization by the FDA. The therapy involves two antibodies, bamlanivimab and etesevimab. Giving these to patients reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 70%.
Lilly claims 100,000 doses are ready for patient use and an additional 150,000 doses will be available throughout the first quarter. More information can be found in this news story.
Meanwhile, the claim that the novel coronavirus escaped from a lab is “very unlikely” according to a team of experts appointed by the World Health Organization. The group spent several weeks in the Chinese city of Wuhan seeking clues about the origins of COVID-19. (more…)
The new clip is titled “How Animal Research Led to Two COVID-19 Vaccines in Record Time”. We’ve uploaded it to both YouTube and Vimeo. You can find it on AMP’s pages at those two websites. Or, you could simply find them in AMP’s COVID-19 resources. Here’s the link.
We invite you to share this latest video via social media or embed it at your own website.
Moderna announced today that testing has shown its coronavirus vaccine is more than 94.5 percent effective. The data is based on early results of a continuing study. At the same time, experts say at best, the vaccine would not be widely available until spring.
Moderna is the second company to report successful preliminary data in the past few weeks. On November 9, Pfizer and BioNTech announced their vaccine candidate was over 90 percent effective.
Animal rights groups have falsely suggested Moderna’s vaccine “skipped” animal tests in its development. However, as AMP explains in our coronavirus FAQ, there is plenty of data and documentation that show animal studies did indeed lead to the development of the vaccine candidate.
The Food and Drug Administration has said coronavirus vaccines should be at least 50 percent effective to be approved.
More information can be found in this announcement from the National Institutes of Health and also in this New York Times story.
Researchers at Georgia Tech University have released a new COVID-19 Risk Assessment Planning Tool to gauge the coronavirus infection dangers associated with attending public gatherings across the country. The interactive website was designed to help policymakers, event planners and individuals determine the risks associated with group events throughout the United States and around the world.
To use the tool, go to this link. Move the slider on the left side of the page to set the size of the group you might encounter. You can then select a specific location to determine your statistical chance of coming into contact with a person who is COVID-19 positive.
For example, if you were planning to go to a 25 person event in Chicago, your risk would be about 71 percent. That same risk for an event the same size drops to 31 percent in Portland, Oregon.
The Los Angeles Times published an article about the tool. It can be found here.
The webpage itself can be found at this link.
We have also added this resource to AMP’s main COVID-19 resources page.
Early data released today by Pfizer suggests their vaccine candidate is more than 90% effective in preventing against coronavirus infection. The vaccine is being developed in collaboration with German drugmaker BioNTech. Pfizer says their analysis showed the vaccine was able to prevent COVID-19 in the vast majority of volunteers who had no evidence of prior infection.
The vaccine candidate underwent preclinical tests in mice and nonhuman primates. Those studies showed it produced “strong anti-viral effects.”
While additional human studies are required, if the most recent data holds up, the candidate would be on par with highly effective vaccines for other diseases such as measles. In addition, the company says no safety concerns have yet been observed.
More information from the New York Times: Pfizer Stuns Experts With Early Data that Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective
More information from Pfizer: Pfizer press release
Tuesday marked a day with several major COVID-19 events:
- Another vaccine trial has been placed on hold. Johnson & Johnson’s study was paused due to unexplained illness in a participant. That vaccine candidate is in the midst of a 60,000-patient clinical trial.
- The first United States resident confirmed to be reinfected with the coronavirus is a 25-year-old Nevada man. His second infection was considered “more severe“ than the first. However, the man fully recovered both times. This is the fifth documented case of its kind worldwide.
- Finally, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases today launched a study designed to determine whether certain approved therapies or investigational drugs in late-stage clinical development show promise against COVID-19. The ACTIV-5 Big Effect Trial will enroll adult volunteers hospitalized with COVID-19 at several sites. More information on that initiative can be found here.