Great apes, residents of the San Diego Zoo (United States) received an injection of the vaccine against Covid-19 in February. They are the first non-human primates to be vaccinated against the virus.
In early January, several gorillas had tested positive for the coronavirus and placed in quarantine after showing symptoms. This was the first known case of natural transmission of the virus to great apes. They have since recovered, zoo officials explain on Twitter.
A win for science: our partners at @Sweetis, a veterinary pharmaceutical company, developed a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) that we used to vaccinate great apes at the Zoo. The vaccine was created specifically for animals. @NatGeo https://t.co/ZpM5QVD4pl
— San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (@sandiegozoo) March 5, 2021
A genome very similar to that of humans
In February, four orangutans and five bonobos each received two doses of an experimental vaccine developed by the specialist firm Zoetis, designed specifically for animals. “Never in my career have I had access to an experimental vaccine so early in the process,” Nadine Lamberski, San Diego Zoo manager, told National Geographic.
Among the vaccinated animals was Karen, a female orangutan who in 1994 became the first non-human primate to undergo open heart surgery. According to several studies, certain species of primates can contract the coronavirus.
Humans and apes have a very similar genome, gorillas having about 98% of their DNA in common with us. In Africa, chimpanzees and gorillas have been decimated by the Ebola virus.