Twitter/Milwaukee County Zoo

The Milwaukee County Zoo’s animal care team launched their “experimental” COVID-19 vaccine on ‘high-risk’ resident animals on Monday. Each animal received a 2-dose shot from an experimental vaccine, three weeks apart, and will be observed by the staff for any side effects.

The vaccination program prioritized the ‘high-risk’ animals such as primates, big cats, and North American river otters against the COVID-19 virus and there’s no age requirement.

The animals were given an “experimental” COVID-19 vaccine made by Zoetis, a leader in the pharmaceutical market for pets and livestock. The company was a subsidiary of Pfizer.

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Journal Sentinel reported:

The zoo currently plans to initially dose 50 animals, which will include primates, such as gorillas and apes, as well as big cats, hyenas, and river otters, according to Dr. Pamela Govett, the zoo’s senior staff veterinarian.

The animals were chosen based on the risk that they have of naturally contracting COVID-19, Govett said.

In humans, the COVID-19 spike protein attaches to a blood pressure-regulating protein, which causes them to get infected, she explained.

“Those proteins are very similar in big cats, in river otters and primates,” she said. “They share that very closely with us.”

The animals that don’t share that as closely are less at risk and less likely to get infected, she said. When the zoo receives additional doses of the vaccine, it will roll them out on a risk-basis as well.

Based on the information available on the CDC website,  At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to people. More studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by SARS-CoV-2.”



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