Russia is developing a coronavirus vaccine for cats

The so-called ‘groundbreaking’ vaccine is expected to be tested in the autumn of 2020.
The so-called ‘groundbreaking’ vaccine is expected to be tested in the autumn of 2020. (Shutterstock)

Russian scientists are developing a new coronavirus vaccine to protect domestic cats (as well as mink in fur farms) according to Rosselkhoznadzor, the country’s veterinary watchdog.

The so-called ‘groundbreaking’ vaccine is expected to be tested in the autumn of 2020.

The head of Rosselkhoznadzor, Sergey Dankvert, said that “the vaccine is needed primarily for mink” in mink farms. However, cat owners will want a vaccine for their pets if they themselves contract the virus.

Coronavirus has been thought to have spread from humans to cats. In July, the UK government announced that a cat in the UK had been diagnosed with Covid-19.

Why do mink farms need to be vaccinated?

Russia has roughly 100 mink farms which supply pelts to its vast fur industry.

Dankvert explained, “We are working on the creation of a vaccine for animals against the new coronavirus infection [as both cats and mink] quickly transmit the virus to each other.

“People will want to vaccinate pets as well - for example, cats that become infected with a new coronavirus infection.”

Additionally, while it is believed that cats cannot transmit the virus back to their human owners, there has been a reported case in the Netherlands of a mink infecting a human.

Human vaccine criticisms

Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin calling the country’s vaccine - created for human use - a “world beater”, the Sputnik V vaccine has been greatly criticised by health professionals elsewhere, as well as by key figures inside Russia itself.

Russian health officials have been forced to make it clear that the human vaccine has only been tested on a handful of people of a certain age, and therefore cannot be used on anyone under 18 or over 60.

The head of Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Professor Alexander Gintsburg, and the head scientist behind the human vaccine said, “A large amount of additional work is certainly required.”

Mass use of this vaccination will reportedly begin in approximately one month. However the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Russia's public health watchdog, Anna Popova, has warned that the country cannot rely solely on Gintsburg's vaccine as a response to the virus.

“It is absolutely certain that each country, including the Russian Federation, should have several different vaccines,” she said.