Russia has produced the world’s first batch of COVID-19 vaccine for animals, its agricultural regulator said on Friday.
Russia registered Carnivac-Cov in March after tests showed it generated antibodies against COVID-19 in dogs, cats, foxes and mink.
The first batch of 17,000 doses will be supplied to several regions of Russia, the regulator Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement. It said companies from Germany, Greece, Poland, Austria, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Lebanon, Iran and Argentina had expressed interest in purchasing the vaccine.
The World Health Organization has voiced concern over the risk of transmission of the virus between humans and animals. The Russian regulator has said the vaccine would be able to protect vulnerable species and thwart viral mutations.
“About 20 organisations are ready to negotiate registration and supply of the vaccine to their countries. The file for registration abroad, in particular in the European Union, is under preparation and will be promptly used for the registration process,” the Russian regulator said.
Denmark culled all 17 million mink on its farms last year after concluding that a strain of the virus had passed from humans to mink and that mutated strains of the virus had then turned up among people.
Rosselkhoznadzor said Russian fur farms planned to buy the vaccine, along with businesses in Greece, Poland and Austria. Russia’s fur farm industry accounts for around 3% of the global market, down from 30% in the Soviet era, according to the main trade body.
Alexander Gintsburg, head of the institute that developed Russia’s Sputnik V human vaccine, was quoted in Izvestia newspaper as saying COVID-19 was likely to hit animals next.
“The next stage of the epidemic is the infection with the coronavirus of farm and domestic animals,” Gintsburg said.
Some scientists say that cats and dogs do not play a major role in transmitting the coronavirus to humans and that their own symptoms are often mild if they contract COVID-19.
The watchdog said the animals had continued to show an immune response for at least six months since the trials began in October. It said it would continue to study the vaccine’s effect on the animals.
Russia already has three coronavirus vaccines for humans, the best known of which is Sputnik V. Moscow has also given emergency approval to two others, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac.