Russia has started vaccinating animals against coronavirus, officials say. In March, Russia announced it had registered what it said was the world’s first animal-specific jab.
Several regions have now started vaccinations at veterinary clinics, Russia’s veterinary watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, told local media. Interest has been shown in the Carnivak-Cov vaccine by the EU, Argentina South Korea and Japan, the agency said.
While scientists say there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the disease to humans, infections have been confirmed in various species worldwide. These include dogs, cats, apes and mink, the period of immunity after a Carnivak-Cov jab is an estimated six months.
Julia Melano, adviser to the head of Rosselkhoznadzor, said clinics were seeing an increase in vaccination requests from “breeders, pet-owners who travel frequently and also citizens whose animals roam freely”, according to the RIA news agency.
Another vaccine is being developed by the US veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis.
Covid-19 has been a serious problem for mink – semi-aquatic mammals farmed for their fur. Multiple countries have reported infections in farmed mink which, in some cases, have fallen severely ill or died.
The largest mink outbreak happened in Denmark, which culled millions of animals and shut down the industry completely until 2022.
There is also some evidence that mink have passed the virus back to humans in a mutated form.