Animal Research: Unlocking Medical Miracles

Animal Models in COVID-19 Vaccine Development Shouldn’t Go Unnoticed

by | Sep 21, 2021

News flash: Laboratory animals played a valuable role in having safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines ready for the public at an unprecedented pace.

Yet the scientific process does not happen overnight. Decades of research with animals including mice, Syrian hamsters and nonhuman primates laid the groundwork for vaccines and drugs to prevent and treat COVID-19.

And the work is not done. Coronavirus research is an ongoing effort. Biomedical scientists are gaining knowledge and insights through research with animals to help save more lives and prepare for COVID-19 variants, future coronaviruses and other yet unknown infectious diseases.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) summed it up well in an August blog post.

“Biomedical studies involving animal models have greatly contributed to the public health response to SARS-CoV-2 by assisting in the development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Animal studies will continue to provide vital information as new SARS-CoV-2 variants emerge and new questions arise as to the transmissibility of these variants, whether they are more harmful to people, and if they remain sensitive to available vaccines,” the NIAID Now post called “The Important Role of Animal Research in mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Development” said.

The urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic helped bring about funding and collaboration between public and private entities to use mRNA vaccine technology to develop lifesaving vaccines for SARS-CoV-2.

Researchers developed mRNA technology thanks to laboratory mice and other mammals before testing it in humans. Laboratories built on existing knowledge about mRNA when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out to develop safe and effective mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines with the help of laboratory mice, hamsters, nonhuman primates and also rats and rabbits.

NIAID Now wrote:

“Animal research plays a key role in developing successful vaccines for humans. Before promising vaccine candidates can be tested in humans, they must first be tested for safety and effectiveness in animals as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To do this, scientists first determine whether a vaccine candidate can stimulate an adequate and safe immune response. This important step is often conducted using small and then, potentially, larger animal models of disease.”

Humane and responsible animal research takes us from hope to treatments and cures.

FBR thanks all who play a role in ensuring access to top-notch vaccines. A particular round of applause goes out to laboratory animal veterinarians, vet techs, animal caretakers and most of all, lab animals. (ALSO READ MATT BAILEY’S OP-ED ‘We Need Research Monkeys To Advance Medical Therapies’)

Read the rest of NIAID’s post here and stay tuned for an upcoming video from FBR thanking the unsung COVID-19 vaccine heroes.

(Featured image credit: Olga Skred / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

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