December 2020, Veterinary Advantage
As COVID-19 vaccines begin rolling out for humans, a smaller effort to develop vaccines for pets and other animals has also begun. But there’s no urgent need for a pet vaccine, Science magazine reports. While the rates of infection in dogs and cats may be similar to those in humans, symptoms seem to be mild, if they appear at all. Additionally, “cats and dogs don’t play an important role in the maintenance or transmission of the disease to humans,” said William Karesh, executive vice president for health and policy at EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit that tracks emerging diseases in animals. “There’s no need for a vaccine from a public health standpoint.” USDA, which grants commercial licenses for pet vaccines, isn’t currently approving any for COVID-19, meaning companies can conduct research, but they can’t sell or distribute vaccines. As for other animals like mink and apes, the best approach to protecting against disease transmission would be changing the way we interact with them, not necessarily developing a vaccine, said one expert.
Pandemic relief includes help for small businesses and veterinary medicine
The new pandemic relief package passed by Congress includes fixes to the Paycheck Protection Program, $20 million for animal health infrastructure’s role in the COVID-19 response, AVMA-led One Health report language, and funding for federal programs important to veterinary medicine, the AVMA announced. The Paycheck Protection Program provisions include a fix for unfavorable IRS tax treatment of expenses paid with PPP loans and simplified PPP forgiveness applications for loans up to $150,000. “The legislation reflects many of the AVMA’s top priorities, for which we worked very closely with key legislators to ensure were included in the final agreement,” said AVMA President Douglas Kratt.