A group of scientists has stated that cats and dogs would have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as a precaution to prevent the risk of the virus spreading further. It has been suggested that coronavirus can infect domesticated animals and it can be transmitted from them to humans. Experts fear that the continuously evolving virus in animals ‘poses a significant long-term risk to public health.’

According to the experts from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, and the University of Minnesota, ‘vaccination of some domesticated animal species might be necessary to curb the spread of the infection’, they wrote in an editorial journal, Virulence.

Last year, Denmark’s government ordered millions of minks to be culled after hundreds of farms suffered from the Covid-19 outbreak caused by variants associated with farmed minks.

Editor-in-chief of Virulence, Kevin Tyler, while talking to Daily Mail said that cats are asymptomatic but they were infected by it and could infect humans too. He further explained that there is a risk that it (virus) can pass from animal to animal like it did in the case of minks and then it can evolve animal-specific strains. He stated that the strains spill back into the human population and we end up with a new virus which is related and ‘causing the whole thing all over again.’

Talking about minks that were culled in Denmark, he stated that in the case of domestic animals, companion animals, we might think about whether we could vaccinate them to stop that from happening. It’s not an obvious risk yet, he added.

Cock van Oosterhout, professor of evolutionary genetics at UEA and one of the authors of Virulence said that it makes sense to develop vaccines for pets, domestic animals just as a precaution to reduce the risk. He stated that while dogs and cats can contract coronavirus, there are no known cases of them carrying it on humans. However, as a human society, we must be prepared for any eventuality when it comes to Covid and the best way to do that is to consider the development of vaccines for animals as well, he added.

He also claimed that Russians have already started to develop a vaccine for pets. Russia had announced last month its plans to complete clinical trials on a Covid-19 vaccine for domestic animals like cats and for mink. While the details were not revealed to the public, it was announced by the government centre developing the doses that it will be widely available in a few months.