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Viruses, vaccinations and evolving science

02/22/2021 06:00AM | 2337 views

By Joanna Gale

Every day there’s a new COVID-19 science story in the news – sometimes several. It’s hardly surprising. We’re facing the first modern pandemic and we’re desperate to learn more about the microscopic demon we’re battling. There have been quite a few COVID headlines about pets and other animals; whether they can catch the virus, spread it or even become ill from it. The most recent story is a group of scientists forecasting that cats and dogs may need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the future. It’s just a theory at present; currently veterinary and human health experts agree that animals don’t seem to play an important role in the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans. That’s welcome news for all those who share their lives with pets.

Of course, it’s been known from early on that SARS-CoV-2 infections aren’t restricted to humans. Scientists have pointed out the risks of animals becoming a wildlife reservoir for human infections. Cats, dogs and other animals can become infected, and it has been shown (in the laboratory only, so far) that cats can transmit the virus to other cats. Infections in mink have been reported in Europe, Canada and the US, leading to culling efforts and in a small number of cases, mink to human infections.  However, the risk of humans becoming infected by any means other than another human is considered very low.

It’s true that there are a number of research groups and companies working on SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for pets or for mink. In this pandemic, we need all the tools we can gather at our disposal and it’s wise to be as prepared as possible for what the future may hold. But the experts advise that, right now, a vaccine isn’t necessary for pets. And, whilst the science evolves the advice remains the same

  • If you have COVID-19, try to limit or avoid contact with your pet and other animals.
  • If your pet has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, keep it away from other people or animals.
  • If your pet or an animal in your care has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and is sick, speak to your vet 


This article was originally posted on 

Joanna Gale is Global Scientific Advocacy and Stakeholder Relations Manager at Mars Petcare

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