Animal tests may impede progress of COVID-19 treatments, experts say


Animal tests may impede progress of COVID-19 treatments, experts say

26 May 2020
An open letter spearheaded by Animal Defenders International (ADI) and signed by nearly 100 experts, academics, and other concerned parties is calling for advanced non-animal research methods to be prioritised to accelerate the discovery and use of effective vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.

Published ahead of the World Health Assembly on Monday 18 May, and directed at the World Health Organization, governments, funding bodies, and regulators, the letter states that “While time, resources and efforts are being put into attempting to find the “ideal” animal model, advanced non-animal scientific methods, which relate directly to the disease in humans, are being progressed. These sophisticated research methods have the potential to deliver safer, more effective vaccines and treatments to the market more quickly but need more funding and support. Advanced techniques include mathematical modelling of transmission and size of the epidemic; the use of patient lung fluid cultures to study the virus genome; patient biopsy samples to investigate lung tissue damage; artificial intelligence models to predict which drugs could treat COVID-19; using antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to treat patients; human organ-on-a-chip technology emulating human lung infection for drug discovery; organoids to investigate how the disease infects human tissue; and in vitro 3D human airway cell models for evaluating drugs.”

The open letter can be viewed here .

Signatories include Dr Laura Leslie, a biomedical engineer at Aston University working on human airways models; respiratory medicines specialist Dr Aryan Tavakkoli; Professor Jon Heylings, Chairman and Owner of Dermal Technology Laboratory Ltd and Professor of Toxicology at Keele University; Dr Malcom Wilkinson, Managing Director at Technology For Industry Ltd; Professor Alberto Alemanno, Professor of EU Law; Professor Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Colorado; Dr Simon Brooman, Senior Lecturer in Animal Law at Liverpool John Moores University; Dr Charlotte E Blattner, Doctor of Animal Law at Harvard Law School; and Kirstall Ltd.

Over 51,000 people have supported, to date, a new ADI petition calling for animal tests to be cut to tackle COVID-19. Sign the petition here.