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Fears rise on China research monkey export ban - UnHerd magazine

An article highlighting the implications of the increasing shortages of monkeys for European and US biomedical research, has been published today (8 Feb) in UnHerd magazine.

Quoting industry sources and EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, the article China’s plan for medical domination considers whether the ongoing shortage will see the West become over-reliant on China to test new treatments for heart disease, cancers, neurological disorders and the development of future vaccines.

China is the primary source of NHPs purpose-bred for scientific use, but it has banned the export of non-human primates for use in research since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in spring 2020. While the move was prudent at first, strict health controls on monkeys used for scientific purposes means the ongoing ban now has far-reaching implications.

Kirk Leech told UnHerd: “This export ban is a clear and present danger to human health, creating obstacles to, and additional expenses for, the development of vaccines and therapeutics, including for Covid-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine relied on preclinical data generated by BioNTech in Germany, using rhesus macaques. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the Janssen vaccine have also relied on preclinical testing with NHPs for safety and efficacy.”

As a result of China’s actions, EARA has written to the European Commission and the UK government to demand China lifts the ban, arguing it is a serious violation of World Trade Organisation (WTO General Tariffs and Trade rules (GATT)). The association has argued that importing countries quickly introduced bio-safety arrangements in place and that the ban could have been lifted within months of its introduction.

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