In addition to having staged one of the most prolific anti-COVID-19 vaccination campaigns on humans, Chile now intends to expand that achievement onto other living beings after three lions, three tigers, three pumas, and an orangutan have been injected at Santiago's Buin Zoo.
The animals were given with a first dose of an experimental vaccine developed by the Zoetis veterinary laboratory, as COVID-19 has long been determined not to be exclusive to humans. Almost 22 months ago, the first case of an infected dog was registered in Hong Kong.
The Buin Zoo, located in the Chilean Metropolitan Region, thus became the first in Latin America to vaccinate animals, by immunizing 10 specimens, it was reported. Three lions, three tigers, three pumas and an orangutan received the first dose of the vaccine on December 13 and will receive the second in a few weeks, Chile's largest zoo also announced.
On February 28, 2020, the Hong Kong Health Protection Center asked infected patients to hand over their pets for a two week quarantine, when the dog of a 60-year-old woman had tested positive, showing that animals, particularly pets, could be infected, although until now they have been isolated and irrelevant cases.
Other zoos worldwide have also been reported to have started vaccinating animals.
The animals are vaccinated for protection against the possible contagion of human beings, especially in the case of emblematic animals in extinction, Buin Zoo Veterinarian Sebastián Celis told La Tercera.
Celis also said there were no studies regarding animals and the new variants of SARS-CoV-2, but everything would indicate that the vaccines would protect them, although how many booster doses would be required is yet to be determined. The original protocol indicates that the second dose is after 21 days. The first was on the 13th of this month.
According Buin Zoo Director Ignacio Idalsoaga, the decision to vaccinate animals was to maintain the highest standards of animal welfare and to be pioneers and innovators in this matter. He also explained the animals were chosen according to the international evidence of the animals most susceptible to contagion and highlighted that none showed adverse reactions.
The vaccine applied in Buin, which passed all Chilean health controls to be applied and is exclusively used for animals, is the same that was used at the San Diego Zoo, in the United States, which immunized its first nine apes in March.