San Diego Zoo Gives Experimental Coronavirus Vaccine to Its Apes

The vaccine is different than the ones currently being administered to humans.

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Several apes at the San Diego Zoo have been given an experimental COVID-19 vaccine in order to curb an outbreak that occurred among the zoo’s primate population.

Nadine Lamberski, chief conservation and wildlife health officer at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, told National Geographic that four orangutans and five bonobos received two doses of an experimental drug for COVID-19 in February. The vaccine is different than the ones currently being administered to humans and was developed by a veterinary pharmaceutical company.

“This isn’t the norm,” she told National Geographic. “In my career, I haven’t had access to an experimental vaccine this early in the process and haven’t had such an overwhelming desire to want to use one.”

Cases of the coronavirus have been reported in some animals, including in five tigers and three lions at the Bronx Zoo, though it’s still unclear how the virus affects animals.

The San Diego Zoo announced in February that a western lowland gorilla troop that became infected with SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, had made a full recovery. According to the zoo, the troop had been infected with a strain that was prevalent in California and may have been more contagious than other strains. Some animals presented symptoms of cough, congestion and lethargy.

As several human vaccines continue to be rolled out across the world, Bloomberg estimates that the world needs almost seven years in order to go back to normal.

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