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Mink for Testing mRNA vaccines

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 gallam1 17 Nov 2020

Given that mink have been shown to suffer Covid in a very similar way to humans, and also that we have a large population of infected animals in Denmark, why are we not doing animal tests in the mink population of the various mRNA vaccines as a matter of urgency?

Post edited at 12:07
 Roadrunner6 17 Nov 2020
In reply to gallam1:

Because we're already at the human trial stage and have limited supplies.

 wintertree 17 Nov 2020
In reply to gallam1:

I don't know about Denmark, but in the UK the legislation over animal testing puts welfare at a sufficiently high standing that a facility and the PI would probably loose their licences and potentially face criminal sanction for working with animals in conditions resembling animal farming - let alone mink farming.

The animals have unknown medical histories and have probably been jacked full of all sorts of stuff over there lives.  I very much doubt there are any medical research facilities or staff equipped or knowledgeable in looking after mink to the required standards.   I doubt you'd find a single research facility that would take animals in from a farm - doing so would present an unacceptable risk to the facility and its legal obligations.

I have absolutely no idea how similar a mink immune system is to a human one, and I don't think mink have been well studied as a model organism, so I expect there isn't much expertise to translate findings from them to humans.

A total and immediate cull seems proportionate to me.  The Danish government tried, ran in to legal problems and are now dismantling those problems as fast as they can. 


Post edited at 12:16
 cb294 17 Nov 2020
In reply to gallam1:

+1 for what wintertree said.

Animal welfare issues are so important, they really trump most other considerations (including financial). Hence, the easiest and often only way to get, say, air conditioning approved for your lab is to claim that you regularly handle experimental animals there, especially mammals such as mice or rats.


In reply to gallam1:

Just googled  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/research-and-testing-using-animals#animals-in-science-regulation-unit-asru-guidance-and-technical-advice

"......in every research proposal, animals are replaced with non-animal alternatives wherever possible; that the number of animals is reduced to the minimum needed to achieve the results sought; and that, for those animals which must be used, procedures are refined as much as possible to minimise their suffering. "

The existing mink farms would probably not have animals kept and bred under conditions acceptable for scientific research, even disregading animal welfare issues. In any case I imagine such tests would only be an indicator and extensive further work on human populations would be needed anyway.

However I don't imagine that some governments would have any qualms about using mink if indeed experiments could give useful information ( I think China has most of of the world's farmed mink). In fact its likely that some countries that may already have vaccines in use used standards and procedures for human testing that would be unacceptable elsewhere.

Proviso: I'm no expert.

Post edited at 13:58

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