Highly endangered black-footed ferrets get experimental Covid-19 vaccine

A veterinarian with the US Fish and Wildlife Service inoculates a black-footed ferret to protect against Covid-19 at the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center near Fort Collins, Colorado. The ferret is among 120 endangered animals in a captive population to receive the experimental vaccine in the summer.

(KHN)In late summer, as researchers accelerated the first clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines for humans, a group of scientists in Colorado worked to inoculate a far more fragile species.

About 120 black-footed ferrets, among the most endangered mammals in North America, were injected with an experimental Covid-19 vaccine aimed at protecting the small, weasel-like creatures rescued from the brink of extinction four decades ago.
The effort came months before US Department of Agriculture officials began accepting applications from veterinary drugmakers for a commercial vaccine for minks, a close cousin of the ferrets. Farmed minks, raised for their valuable fur, have died by the tens of thousands in the United States and been culled by the millions in Europe after catching the new coronavirus from infected humans.
Vaccinating such vulnerable species against the disease is important not only for the animals' sake, experts say, but potentially for the protection of people. Some of the most pernicious human diseases have originated in animals, including the new coronavirus, which is believed to have spread from bats to an intermediary species before jumping to humans and sparking the pandemic.