As COVID vaccinations roll out worldwide, scientists who've been keeping tabs on coronavirus variants have been worried that the virus will find a home in animals and mutate there, possibly then transferring back to humans. On Wednesday, a group that oversees agriculture and veterinary safety in Russia made a big announcement that could mitigate some of that concern: It says its scientists have registered a vaccine in that country designed specifically to vaccinate dogs, cats, mink, foxes, and other animals, reports the Tass government news agency, via the Washington Post. Konstantin Savenkov, a spokesperson for the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, claims that the Carnivak-Cov vaccine is the "world's first and only product for preventing COVID-19 in animals."
Some countries, including Denmark, have culled by the millions animals like mink, which contracted the virus and spurred researchers' fear about possible mutations. Savenkov says further research is ongoing, but that it's now believed the vaccine lasts for at least six months, per Tass. He adds that other countries have expressed interest in the vaccine, which could start to go into mass production as early as this month; Greece, Poland, Canada, and the US are among those checking out Carnivak-Cov. Still, the agency isn't recommending that everyone rush out to get their pets a jab just yet, considering that cats and dogs seem to rarely catch it and haven't yet been blamed for passing it onto humans, per the World Health Organization. "We did this work for the future," Savenkov says in a statement, per the New York Times. "We should be prepared to prevent a situation rather than deal with it later if it takes a negative turn." (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)