Researchers at Complutense University in Madrid have successfully tested a prototype vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, directed at animals.
Although the disease is not of great relevance in veterinary medicine, researchers stress the importance of anticipating potential new scenarios and potential problems that may lead to new forms of the virus at the epidemiological level.
In our study, we show the high efficacy of the vaccine prototype in limiting virus replication in cats, which would help control transmission between animals and prevent them from acting as potential sources of infection, a form of viral infection. Researcher Sandra Barroso explained to UCM’s Immunology Service and Preventive Medicine.
This pilot study, the results of which have been published in the journal Research in Veterinary Science, was carried out in collaboration with the Microbial Immunology Unit at the Veterinary Health Monitoring Center (VISAVET) of UCM’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. As part of a project studying the potential impact of COVID-19 on pets and lynx, Institut de Salud Carlos III.
In the first phase of the trial, two animals were vaccinated intramuscularly with the vaccine prototype, Complutense explained in a press release, adding that the cats were monitored for possible secondary reactions and to evaluate the production of antibodies. Serum samples were also taken.
35 days after vaccination, the animals were transferred along with two control animals to a high biosafety laboratory of the center, 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, and the duration of infection and assessment of disease response was 21 days.
In this respect our vaccine prototype has proved to be effective, as in the case of one of the vaccinated animals, infection was completely avoided, whereas in the other it was confined to the region of the upper respiratory tract and was without excretion of infectious . Virus. , the researchers indicated.
Vaccinated animals had a stronger immune response based on neutralizing antibodies, as in vaccinated humans, helping to control infection.
Although the COVID-19 disease is currently not of great relevance in veterinary medicine, the continued presence of mutations in the virus can lead to the appearance of new variants that clearly affect animals”, observed Barroso-Arevallo.
And it concluded that new scenarios in which the epidemiology of the disease changes cannot be ruled out, so it is important to have control and prevention tools for the different species most susceptible to contracting the disease.