What everyone needs to know about COVID-19 Vaccine Testing

From Animal Alliance of Canada: https://www.animalalliance.ca/what-everyone-needs-to-know-about-covid-19-vaccine-testing/animals in research / April 21, 2020

Animal Alliance of Canada would like to sincerely thank Anne Birthistle, Animal Defence and Anti-vivisection Society of B.C., for introducing us to Dr. Andre Menache and his statements on COVID-19. Also, a big thank you to the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society and Humane Research Australia for their statements on COVID-19. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TORONTO, April 21, 2020 — A long-standing regulatory requirement to bring vaccines to market involves testing them on animal models prior to clinical trials with humans. Although this seems like a very good safety measure for humans, most people do not know that 90% of what worked on animal models didn’t work for humans and in some cases even caused harm.

This acceptance of a 10% predictive rate using animal models is in stark contrast with the 85-90% predictive rate using modern in vitro technologies. According to veterinarian Dr. Andre Menache, “the requirement for testing on animal models dates back to the Nuremberg Codes of 1947 and is still the norm in national and international legislation today.”

Liz White, Director of Animal Alliance of Canada, a national animal advocacy organization, states, “What most people do not know is that mice are resistant to the COVID-19 virus. Mice are forced through genetic engineering to have the human version of the enzyme that causes COVID-19.  Researchers then use the mice to test a vaccine in order to meet regulatory requirements before starting clinical trials on humans.  This process seems scientifically flawed.”

We need a vaccine to combat COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2), a virus globally ravaging populations and economies today. Consequently, we need to discuss and challenge testing on animal models when we should be using human relevant models.  According to Dr. Menache, “there are some high-performance technologies of the 21st century we can use for example ‘MIMIC’ (Modular IMune In vitro Construct).   It’s an in vitro model of the human immune system.”  According to Michael Rivard, vice president of corporate development at VaxDesign, “the information you get from this type of test is far beyond what you’d get out of a mouse study both because it’s humans and because you can see the effect across a spectrum of genotypes”.

Because we’re in an emergency situation, researchers decided to test new treatments directly on volunteer patients. Importantly, these are drugs that have already been tested on animals for their intended uses.

In the recent past, there have been other COVID related viruses, like SARS, for which we still don’t have a vaccine.  Dr. Menache states, “perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic will help us to question some of our outdated scientific practices as well as the obsolete regulations that still impose them.”

“We urge the Trudeau government and the research community to establish a research institution whose mandate is the exploration and development of human-relevant research – not using animal models – to create a better future for all of us,”  said White.  “We need to move our research objectives out of the 1940s and into the 21st century.”

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Liz White, Director, Animal Alliance of Canada
Email: liz@animalalliance.ca

Dr. Andre Menache, CEO of Antidote Europe, is a European Veterinary Specialist in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law and a member of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine.  He is a zoologist and a veterinary surgeon with a particular interest in medical law and was instrumental in amending the Declaration of Helsinki (DH) see DH here: https://www.wma.net/policies-post/wma-declaration-of-helsinki-ethical-principles-for-medical-research-involving-human-subjects/

Dr. Menache, BSc (zoology), BSc(Hons), BVSc, MRCVS
Email: andre.menache@gmail.com