From the Viewsroom

Now, Covid jabs for animals

Ravikanth Nandula | Updated on June 13, 2021

This will protect their lives and incomes of those dependent on them

When Russia started vaccinating animals to prevent Covid-19 a fortnight ago, the moment had not come early. The first animal to join the long queue of human beings seeking protection from the deadly virus was a cat.

Even as the scientific community debated, in the first months of the outbreak, to find out if the infection was contagious to animals and, further, from animals to human beings, there appeared a few reports in the media of animals thus afflicted. One report said that a whole streak of tigers from a particular zoo in India was infected.

The widely held scientific belief in 2020 was that the virus had likely spread to human beings through an intermediary animal such as badger, raccoon dog or mink. The community is less firm about this theory now, giving room for the view that the virus could have possibly spread following an initial leak from a laboratory. In either case, the role of animals as possible carriers of the virus to humans cannot be ruled out.

At no place in the world was this fear of animals as spreaders of the virus felt more harshly than in Denmark, where a decision was taken to cull 14 million mink to rule out a potential mutation. The Prime Minister of the country broke down on live television while announcing the decision. The dead-and-buried mink continued to fan the flames of fear for months (that the rotting carcasses might cause fresh contamination) and, in December 2020, another decision was taken to exhume the mink. From elsewhere in the world and also from India, there were reports of animal breeders and dairy farmers losing incomes over such fears.

Instances of domestic pets being abandoned led to animal lovers launching campaigns to re-educate pet-keepers. Civic authorities at various places swung into action to round up stray animals. Carnivac-Cov, the only Covid-19 vaccine for animals at the moment, should be welcomed. It will help save their lives and reassure communities that are dependent on animals for their livelihood.

Published on June 13, 2021

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