Covid vaccine: Cats and dog will need to be vaccinated to contain virus, scientists say

Coronavirus: Cats and dogs 'may need vaccinating' says expert

The vaccine rollout in the UK continues apace, as the government pulls out all the stops to vaccinate 15 million people by mid-February. Now scientists are suggesting mass vaccine rollouts are not sufficient to neutralising the threat. Efforts to vaccinate pet cats and dogs against COVID-19 may be necessary in the future to contain the virus, scientists have suggested in a new editorial.

The warning comes from experts at the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich-based research facility the Earlham Institute and the University of Minnesota.

Writing in the journal Virulence, the experts pointed out that the evolutionary mutations of the virus in animals followed by transmission to humans “poses a significant long-term risk to public health”.

“It is not unthinkable that vaccination of some domesticated animal species might be necessary to curb the spread of the infection,” they said.

Speaking to Jeremy Vine on Monday, Dr Sarah Jarvis said the expert’s warning is to be taken seriously.

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“We have forgotten about the 17 million minks that were slaughtered because they caught the virus from humans and it then mutated in humans into a version that could be not responsive to the vaccines so we do need to worry,” said Dr Jarvis.

One of the editorial’s authors, Cock van Oosterhout, professor of evolutionary genetics at UEA, said dogs and cats can contract coronavirus but that there are no known cases in which there has been jump back to humans.

“It makes sense to develop vaccines for pets, for domestic animals, just as a precaution to reduce this risk,” he said.

“What we need to be as a human society, we really need to be prepared for any eventuality when it comes to Covid.”

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