Animal Researchers are Using the Pandemic to Demand More Animals
To the Editor regarding: “The dire consequences of a research animal shortage” (opinion, Jun 23, 2021)
To be clear, COVID-19 vaccines were tested on animals at the same time as human clinical trials. This process strays from the standard protocol as typically a gamut of animal experiments are performed before human trials are authorized. Due to urgent need, drug companies were given approval to run both human and animal tests simultaneously (according to The Associated Press and other sources).
This puts into question the necessity of animal tests to begin with. If experiments on animals were so vital, as this opinion piece claims, this process wouldn’t have been expedited.
While it might be trendy for researchers to hide behind the COVID-19 pandemic and use it to amplify their plea for more animals, it’s simply not true. My experience inside animal labs taught me that the vast majority of this research is entirely unnecessary, and it doesn’t work—and the research industry knows it. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 95% of drugs shown to be safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials.
It’s also irresponsible to ignore the moral and ethical concerns with animal experiments. I’ve worked with primates in labs, and these highly intelligent individuals are locked in tiny cages and treated like inanimate commodities. Driven insane by these barren environments, animals pace, pound on the metal bars, and pull out their hair.
There are approximately 100,000 nonhuman primates held captive in U.S. labs every year, and more are being bred. Some labs breed animals internally, buy them from factory-farm breeders, or steal them from the wild.
Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the majority of primates imported to the U.S. in 2020 were from Cambodia (15,664), Mauritius (5,032), and China (3,723).
The last thing we need is to continue trapping monkeys from the wild and shipping them to U.S. labs. Let’s stop investing in this failing field and put money toward advancing non-animal models—research based on human biology that actually works at the expense of none.