A vaccine to stop COVID-19 in cats recently received authorization from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin accelerated clinical trials. The trials are being conducted by Joseph Impellizeri, DVM, DACVIM, MRCVS (Cornell 1994) of Veterinary Oncology Services at Guardian Veterinary Specialists, Brewster, N.Y.
“By studying the immune response after immunizing an important host that resides with human counterparts, we hope to understand better the potential clinical response against the virus using a specially designed vaccine and delivery system that may translate to both human and animal protection,” says Dr. Impellizeri. The vaccine is being developed by Applied DNA and EvviVax.
The goal of the trial is to evaluate the vaccine for the prevention of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in cats that would mitigate the animals as a potential reservoir for infections in humans. No transmission back to humans has been documented, although the possibility remains, given the virus’ zoonotic origin.
The trial will recruit healthy pet cats that will receive two doses of the vaccine candidate and follow the enrolled cohort for up to six months. The trial’s primary endpoint is to demonstrate the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine in cats. The vaccine yielded strong responses even at very low doses in mice.