A newly published article in the Cell Press journal Current Biology examines how the novel coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the continued need for animal studies. The paper was penned by researches at several institutions across The Netherlands and Germany. As the authors explain, the only way the current crisis can be solved is through the development of vaccines and/or antiviral and adjunctive drug therapies. This requires biomedical research and specifically animal studies.
The authors voice their support for non-animal alternatives. But at the same time they explain “currently there is no integrated replacement model to be able to completely replace animal research to study the complex functions of the body.“
The paper also includes several detailed examples of how animal models are aiding the fight against COVID-19:
- The use of ferrets to investigate the transmission route of SARS- CoV-2.
- Lung pathology studies in nonhuman primates that help us understand how COVID-19 impacts the body.
- The paper authors highlight remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed and tested in animal models to treat Ebola infections. They go on to explain the drug was found to effectively reduce symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection in rhesus macaques.
The article focuses at length on the importance of animals in vaccine efficacy and safety tests. This is a vital need illustrated by tests of a SARS-CoV-1 vaccine candidate in 2004 that alarmingly found some vaccinated ferrets developed hepatitis, rather than protection against the virus
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