In the US, endangered black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) have received their vaccinations with an experimental animal-specific COVID-19 vaccine. One hundred and twenty members of this weasel species, once thought to be completely extinct, in Colorado have been vaccinated.
It is stated that ferrets are highly susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. After the detection of COVID cases in farms where mink, a species closely related to ferrets, was detected, cases were also observed among mink in nature. Cases in the animal world are closely monitored, as the spread of viruses among different species increases the likelihood of mutations.
Stating that it is important to follow the coronavirus in animals, vaccine experts state that if the virus returns to an animal host and mutates, it can eliminate the immunity formed in humans.
Native to North America, the black-footed weasel species is considered extinct, with several members being discovered in 1981. It is estimated that the current number of these weasels, which continue their natural lives under control, is 370.
Concerned that the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic would threaten these ferrets, experts began administering an experimental COVID-19 vaccine in late summer. In this vaccine, which is different from the COVID vaccines developed for humans, instead of mRNA technology, a chemical substance that triggers the spike protein of the virus and the immune response is used.
Within the scope of the study, it is stated that the vaccination application has been completed and 60 ferrets have not been vaccinated in case of a problem with the vaccine.
So far, the vaccinated black-footed ferrets have not developed any health problems, and the tests showed SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in their blood. It is stated that whether the vaccine is truly protective against the disease will be determined after the completion of the efficacy trials, which are equivalent to the Phase III phase of human trials.