Cats and dogs may need vaccinations to stop Covid spread, scientists say

25 January 2021, 10:29

Cats and dogs may need to be vaccinated in the future, scientists have said
Cats and dogs may need to be vaccinated in the future, scientists have said. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

It may be necessary to vaccinate pet cats and dogs in the future to stop the virus spreading back to humans, scientists have said.

According to researchers based at the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich-based research facility the Earlham Institute and University of Minnesota, pets could need a jab as a "precaution" to reduce the risks of the virus spreading further.

It comes after it was already shown that the virus can spread between humans and animals when Denmark’s government culled millions of mink last year after it emerged hundreds of cases in the country were linked with variants in farmed mink.

Writing in Virulence, the scientists warned: "It is not unthinkable that vaccination of some domesticated animal species might... be necessary to curb the spread of the infection."

Cock van Oosterhout, professor of evolutionary genetics at UEA, warned: "It makes sense to develop vaccines for pets, for domestic animals, just as a precaution to reduce this risk.

"What we need to be as a human society, we really need to be prepared for any eventuality when it comes to Covid.

"I think the best way to do this is indeed consider development of vaccines for animals as well.

"Interestingly the Russians have already started to develop a vaccine for pets, which there's very little information about."

Cats could need vaccines to stop the spread of Covid back to humans
Cats could need vaccines to stop the spread of Covid back to humans. Picture: PA

Kevin Tyler, editor-in-chief of Virulence, said: "Cats are asymptomatic but they are infected by it and they can infect humans with it.

"The risk is that, as long as there are these reservoirs, that it starts to pass as it did in the mink from animal to animal, and then starts to evolve animal-specific strains, but then they spill back into the human population and you end up essentially with a new virus which is related which causes the whole thing all over again."

He said that while mink were culled in Denmark, "if you were thinking about domestic animals, companion animals, then you might think about whether you could vaccinate to stop that from happening".

Read more: Boris Johnson set to give go-ahead on quarantine hotels for UK arrivals

Read more: £23 million funding given to councils to combat Covid misinformation

Professor Willie Weir on the Covid cat, the UK's first animal coronavirus case

"Continued virus evolution in reservoir animal hosts, followed by spillback events into susceptible human hosts, poses a significant long-term risk to public health,’ the scientists said.

"SARS-CoV-2 can infect a wide range of host species, including cats, dogs, mink and other wild and domesticated species and, hence, the vaccination of domesticated animals might be required to halt further virus evolution and spillback events.

"Whilst the vaccination campaigns against SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 are being rolled out worldwide, new virus variants are likely to continue to evolve that have the potential to sweep through the human population."

They said the more transmissible virus strains, like the UK variant, require more people to be vaccinated to keep coronavirus under control.

"Vaccination against a viral pathogen with such high prevalence globally is without precedent and we, therefore, have found ourselves in uncharted waters,’ they wrote.

The scientists also added that governments must consider the continued use of Covid measures including masks and social distancing as the only way to reduce the spread of new variants of Covid-19.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington

'We're not enemies': Biden calls for unity after Trump assassination attempt as he delivers rare speech from Oval Office

Prince William and Prince George at the Euro 2024 final

Prince William and Prince George put on animated display as they watch rollercoaster Euro 2024 final against Spain

Prince William offered a consoling message after England's loss

'It just wasn’t meant to be': Prince William offers consoling message after England's loss in Euro 2024 final

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice

Amanda Abbington recalls 'tough and horrible' Strictly experience as she was left 'vomiting and crying' after rehearsals

Fans have been left in despair

Devastated England fans left holding their heads in despair after heartbreaking 2-1 defeat at Euros final

England lost to Spain in the Euro 2024 final

England's heartbreak as Spanish goal four minutes from time seals Euro 2024 final defeat

Prince William and Prince George at the Euro 2024 final

Smiling Prince George attends Euro 2024 final with Prince William as England face off against Spain

Kate with Charlotte at Wimbledon

Princess Kate looks radiant in purple as she presents Wimbledon trophy at men's final

Corey Comperatore was killed during the Trump rally attack.

Pictured: Man killed in shooting at Trump rally as he 'tried to shield family from bullets'

Carlos Alcaraz has retained his Wimbledon title

Carlos Alcaraz retains Wimbledon title as he beats Novak Djokovic for second year in a row

England are facing Spain in the final

England 1-2 Spain: Heartbreak for England as Spain win Euros 2024

Melania Trump shared an emotional statement on the incident

Melania Trump breaks silence after attempted assassination of husband Donald at rally

The wife and two daughters of racing commentator John Hunt were killed at their Hertfordshire home

Bereaved racing commentator John Hunt has fundraiser set up after wife and two daughters killed

Princess Kate has made just her second appearance since her cancer diagnosis - as she prepares to bestow the Wimbledon men's singles trophy at the All England Club.

Princess Kate arrives at Wimbledon as crowd applauds for royal's second engagement since cancer shock

Donald Trump was shot at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania yesterday

‘We will FEAR NOT’: Trump urges Americans to ‘stay united’ after attempted assassination

Graziano Di Prima has broken his silence

Strictly pro Graziano Di Prima allegedly 'spat, kicked and berated' Zara McDermott before sacking