Dog vaccine

Explained | Ancovax – India’s first COVID-19 vaccine for animals

The Center has launched a COVID-19 vaccine for animals such as dogs, lions, leopards, mice and rabbits.

The Center has launched a COVID-19 vaccine for animals such as dogs, lions, leopards, mice and rabbits.

The story so far: As COVID-19 cases rise across India, the Center launched the country’s first animal vaccine – Ancovax – against the SARS-CoV-2 virus on June 9.

Ancovax – a COVID-19 vaccine for animals like dogs, lions, leopards, mice and rabbits – contains an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 (Delta) antigen capable of neutralizing Delta and Omicron variants. Developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-National Equine Research Center (ICAR-NRCE), this vaccine is one of six locally produced vaccines by the Indian institute.

Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar chaired the launch event at the ICAR Center in Hisar, Haryana. Besides Ancovax, Tomar has also launched CAN-CoV-2 ELISA kit (detects COVID in dogs), Surra ELISA kit (detects Trypanosoma evansi infection in animals) and Equine DNA parentage test kit ( determines parentage in horses and other equines).

What is Ancovax?

The Ancovax vaccine is an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 Delta (COVID-19) vaccine that can be used safely in dogs, lions, leopards, mice and rabbits against the COVID-19 virus, according to a statement published by ICAR. The vaccine contains an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 (Delta) antigen with Alhydrogel as an adjuvant. Marking a first for India, Ancovax is the only vaccine capable of neutralizing the COVID-19 virus in animals.

What are the other COVID vaccines for animals?

Prior to Ancovax, Russia registered the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine for animals called Carnivac-Cov in March 2021, after tests showed it generated antibodies against the COVID-19 virus in dogs, cats , foxes and minks. Clinical trials that began in October 2020 were conducted on dogs, cats, arctic foxes, mink and other animals, according to a Reuters report. The tests, initially conducted on ferrets, demonstrated that the animals exhibited a continuous immune response for at least six months since the start of the trials.

The vaccine contains an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus strain to elicit humoral and T cell-mediated immune responses when injected into animals. The vaccine was developed by Rosselkhoznadzor, or the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, to prevent viral transmission from animals to humans – a potential threat confirmed by the World Health Organization.

Russia produced its first batch of 17,000 doses of Carnivac-Cov in April 2021. The vaccine, which is believed to be able to protect vulnerable species and thwart COVID-19 mutations, has been administered at several veterinary clinics across the country. Russia to cats and other pets. Until then, Russia had recorded two animal cases of COVID-19 – both in cats.

Many companies in Germany, Greece, Poland, Austria, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Lebanon, Iran and Argentina have expressed interest in purchasing Carnivac -COV, Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement.

In July 2021, US pharmaceutical company Zoetis donated more than 11,000 doses of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine to nearly 70 zoos as well as conservatories, sanctuaries and academic institutions across the country after eight gorillas were infected in the San Diego Zoo. The company’s vaccine, which was developed in January 2021, has been cleared for experimental use on a case-by-case basis by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Zoetis began working on an experimental vaccine for animals after a dog was infected with COVID-19 in Hong Kong in February 2020.

The vaccine, which was initially tested in dogs and cats and later in mink, was found to be safe and has a reasonable expectation of efficacy, Zoetis said.

Why do animals need a COVID-19 vaccine?

The need for a COVID-19 vaccine for animals arose when Denmark slaughtered 17 million mink in 2020 after a study confirmed that a strain of the virus had jumped from humans to mink. Later, mutated strains of the mink virus were detected in humans. The strain was suspected of being able to compromise the effectiveness of vaccines, leading the Danish government to order the culling of the country’s entire mink population.

The infection had destroyed Denmark’s $800 million-a-year fur industry, as the government also proposed a ban on all mink farming until 2022. In a bid to stop the spread of the mutated strain across nations, many Russian fur farms with businesses in Greece, Poland and Austria purchased Carnivac-Cov.

In India, eight Asiatic lions from the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad tested positive for the new coronavirus in May 2021 – the first known case of animal infection in the country. Zoo keepers noticed that the four male and four female big cats developed symptoms including a dry cough, runny nose and loss of appetite on April 24, 2021, and alerted the veterinary team. The big cats were treated for mild symptoms and recovered quickly.

Shortly after, in June 2021, two lions died of COVID-19 at a zoo near Chennai after showing symptoms like coughing and loss of appetite. At least 10 other lions had also been infected at the same zoo, but quickly recovered.