EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, has responded (today 28 May 2021) to an opinion piece in The Times from UK actress Joanna Lumley that calls for an end of animal research.
In particular, Kirk corrected her claim that 'the speed at which Covid vaccines were developed using the latest alternative methods saw human trials conducted in parallel with, and sometimes ahead of, animal tests'.
See the full text of Kirk Leech's letter here.
"Sir, Joanna Lumley’s concern for animal welfare is admirable (Britain should lead the way in ending animal experiments, The Times, May 27) but studies using mice, ferrets and monkeys identified which coronavirus vaccines were likely to be effective; once a vaccine was developed monkeys were used to ensure the safety and efficacy of the candidate vaccines. For instance, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine relied on preclinical data generated by BioNTech in Germany, using rhesus macaques, to show that recipients of the vaccine were fully protected against the SARS-CoV2 virus and to ensure its safety. Other Covid-19 vaccine candidates, such as the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the Janssen vaccine, have also relied on preclinical testing with monkeys.
The urgency of the pandemic resulted in some testing on humans and animals being conducted at the same time, such as with the Moderna vaccine, but human trials were never conducted before animal trials. Human trials were approved based on previous testing of mRNA technology on animals that had been shown to be safe. Without animal research there would still be no vaccines yet available to bring us out of this pandemic."