Cats and dogs could need COVID-19 vaccinations, say experts

:"It makes sense to develop vaccines for pets."
:"It makes sense to develop vaccines for pets." Photo credit: File

Cats and dogs may need COVID-19 vaccinations to curb the spread of infection, according to one group of scientists.

Experts from the University of East Anglia (UEA)  have warned that if COVID-19 continues to mutate in animals it could transmit to humans which would pose a "significant long term risk to public health".

In an editorial for journal Virulence, they said it was "not unthinkable" that vaccination of domesticated pets would be necessary. 

"It makes sense to develop vaccines for pets, for domestic animals, just as a precaution to reduce this risk," said UEA Professor of Evolutionary Genetics Cock van Oosterhout. 

"We really need to be prepared for any eventuality when it comes to COVID."

Kevin Tyler, editor-in-chief of Virulence, says it's not an "obvious risk" yet - but caution should still be exercised. 

"As long as there are these reservoirs, that it starts to pass... from animal to animal, and then starts to evolve animal-specific strains," Tyler told PA Media. 

Then, the strains could "spill back into the human population and you end up essentially with a new virus which is related, which causes the whole thing all over again."