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Saturday, December 10, 2022

Spanish veterinarians develop a vaccine prototype against COVID-19 effective in cats

Although it has been shown that pets can be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, in most cases the disease is asymptomatic or mild. To anticipate adverse future epidemiological conditions, researchers at the Complutense University (UCM) of Madrid have developed a vaccine prototype that has been effective in preliminary trials.

“In our study, we show a high efficacy of the vaccine prototype for limiting viral replication of SARS-CoV-2 in cats, controlling transmission between animals and preventing them from serving as potential sources of infection. will help prevent that,” he says. sandra barrosoResearchers from UCM’s Viral Immunology and Preventive Medicine Service.

This pilot study, the results of which have been published in Research in Veterinary Science, was carried out at the Veterinary Health Monitoring Center (VISAVET) of UCM’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in collaboration with the Institute’s Microbial Immunology Unit. Health Carlos III, as part of the project “Studying the potential impact of COVID-19 on pets and lynx”.

In the first phase of the trial, two animals were vaccinated intramuscularly with the vaccine prototype. Cats were monitored for possible secondary reactions and serum samples were also taken to assess antibody production. 35 days after vaccination, animals were transferred along with two control animals to the center’s High Biosafety Laboratory (Level 3), where they were infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus to evaluate disease response.

To reduce the risk to research staff, the animals were placed in an isolator that filtered the exhaust air. The animals, in addition to receiving daily veterinary care, had environmental enrichment to maximize their well-being. The duration of infection and assessment of disease response was 21 days.

“Our vaccine prototype has proven to be effective in this regard, as in the case of one of the vaccinated animals, infection was completely avoided, while in the other it was confined to the area of ​​the upper respiratory tract and without virus excretion. was infectious”, indicate the UCM researchers.

Both vaccinated animals had a strong neutralizing antibody-based immune response, which helped control infection in vaccinated humans.

“Although the COVID-19 disease is not of great relevance in veterinary medicine at present, the continued presence of mutations in the virus may lead to the appearance of new variants that clearly affect animals. Unfortunately, we cannot rule out new scenarios in which the epidemiology of disease changes. For this reason, it is important to have control and prevention tools for the various susceptible species”, concludes Barroso-Arevallo.

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