• Ana Barros

Pigs used to test new COVID-19 vaccines before humans trials

A team from the Pirbright Institute, UK, are to test new vaccines for COVID-19 using pigs as an animal model.


The vaccines, developed at the University of Oxford, UK, contain the protein from COVID-19 which results in the production of protective antibodies - molecules which target and kill the virus during infection.


The team will vaccinate pigs and then measure the level of protective antibodies produced to assess the vaccine’s ability to block COVID-19 from causing disease.


Pigs are used as their immune system is similar to that of humans and these tests will demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the new vaccine to see if they are suitable for human trials.

"This work is a fantastic collaboration between world-leading medical and veterinary scientists in immunology, virology and molecular biology," said Toby Tuthill, head of the virus program at Pirbright.

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange) isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (brown) cultured in the lab. Credit:

NIAID-RML

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