Update: December 14, 2021
A new study from researchers in Seattle shows that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, does not behave in monkeys as it does in humans. Macaques who were vaccinated against or recovering from the disease failed to mirror human immune responses that they’re meant to model. Just as experiments on monkeys have failed to yield a marketable vaccine for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, Zika, and a host of other diseases, it appears now that a reliance on monkeys for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments would benefit only the experimenters, not the public.
The federally funded national primate research centers that are now clamoring for more monkeys and more taxpayer money need to acknowledge the failure of animal testing and stop spreading the falsehood that there’s a monkey shortage in U.S. laboratories. Our government must fund only animal-free research, which is most likely to yield results that are meaningful for humans.
Take action below to urge your members of Congress to pull the plug on the remaining national primate research centers!
Monkey experimenters and their trade groups and lobbyists have been working overtime to hold fast to their cruel and worthless studies that are out of step with today’s ethics and today’s science. Apparently fearful that the truth about their failure to produce treatments and cures will get out, the people who earn their livings harming monkeys have been claiming that there is a “shortage” of monkeys. That’s right. The people who imprison intelligent, sensitive monkeys in cold and barren metal boxes and deprive them of everything that would make their lives worth living—to torment and kill them in painful, traumatizing, and invasive experiments—have been selling a bill of goods to the media in an effort to get their hands on even more monkeys to exploit and kill.
But PETA won’t let them get away with their lies. Check out the claims made by monkey experimenters and the facts.
CLAIM: Monkey experimenters were scrambling to find monkeys last year in order to develop COVID-19 vaccines.
FACT: Vaccines were already in development when the monkey experimenters started whining. We have had two vaccines on the market in record time because years-long animal trials were bypassed. More monkey studies actually delay getting vaccines to humans. What we need is acceptance of modern science—not monkeys. What’s more, monkeys are currently being used in absurd studies on junk-food diets and stress and in curiosity-driven psychology tests. If experimenters are concerned about a “shortage” of monkeys for infectious disease studies, why don’t they critique the use of monkeys for these other purposes?
CLAIM: Because monkeys and humans are genetically similar, we need monkeys to understand the novel coronavirus.
FACT: Monkeys are not good models for coronaviruses—or anything else—in humans. They are not miniature humans. Monkeys are complex social beings like humans, but they differ genetically and physiologically in important ways. Their immune systems respond differently to pathogens and vaccines. Definitive research shows that the SARS-CoV-2 virus adapts to and mutates in monkey tissue. Monkeys infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 ended up with that virus and another virus that mutated and adapted to monkey cells. In short, the novel coronavirus behaves differently in animals than it does in humans. Both Pfizer and Moderna—the developers of the vaccines currently on the market—have stated as much.
It’s also worth noting that humans and chimpanzees share even more DNA than humans and monkeys do. Yet a 2013 National Institutes of Health report concluded that experiments on chimpanzees “rarely accelerated new discoveries or the advancement of human health for infectious diseases.”
CLAIM: There is a “monkey shortage,” and we need to create a “strategic monkey reserve” to serve as “an emergency stockpile similar to those maintained by the government for oil and grain.”
FACT: Sixty years ago the U.S. started the federally funded National Primate Research Centers for this very purpose. Why are monkey experimenters clamoring for what they already have? Because the primate centers have been a failure—no marketable vaccine has been developed using monkeys in these laboratories, which breed, confine, torment, and kill thousands of monkeys every single year. What’s more, monkeys are sentient beings—they shouldn’t be warehoused to serve as “an emergency stockpile.”
“I don’t think proving this in an animal model is on the critical path to getting this to a clinical trial.”
—Tal Zaks, chief medical officer at Moderna, referring to the coronavirus vaccine that his company developed, as quoted in STAT
CLAIM: Hundreds of animals have been subjected to COVID-19 experiments since the pandemic started.
FACT: We currently have two vaccines precisely because the years-long process of animal trials was bypassed. While some animals were used, the exemption from the lengthy trial process points to a new way forward. Scientists can and are developing effective treatments without using thousands of monkeys and other animals. This has monkey experimenters fearful that the public will realize how irrelevant they are.
CLAIM: The National Primate Research Centers need more money.
FACT: Sixty years—and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of monkeys—later, the primate centers have failed to produce cures and treatments for humans. The centers represent an experiment that has failed, and it’s time to stop pouring money into this enterprise. They have also failed to abide by simple animal welfare laws and to breed healthy monkeys. See here for details. Let’s not throw good money after bad.
Episode #163: PETA Does the Math on Monkeys: Why No Primates Are Needed in Labs
In 2015, Harvard University closed its national primate research center after assessing multiple animal welfare violations and the failure of experiments on monkeys to produce treatments or vaccines for humans. For the sake of humans waiting for vaccines, the animals, and effective research and to ensure that the U.S. isn’t left behind in advancing human-relevant research, the other primate centers should do the same.
Please join thousands of PETA supporters calling for the immediate closure of the National Primate Research Centers. Six decades of wasted money and wasted lives are enough. Please send a polite e-mail to your members of Congress urging them to pull the plug on the remaining primate centers.