Kenya Airways stops carrying monkeys after accident

After 100 monkeys escaped on a highway in Pennsylvania, Kenya Airways said it will no longer fly macaques overseas when its contract with an unnamed shipper expires this month, cutting the supply of monkeys available for medical testing in the United States. US is further restricted, according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Kenya Airways flew the Mauritanian monkeys to JFK in New York City before boarding a truck that crashed on January 21 en route to an approved animal quarantine facility. Three of the monkeys were euthanized during the escape, and all have been accounted for, Centers for Disease Spokesperson for Control and Prevention Kristen Nordlund wrote in an email to: Fast company.

Because they are genetically similar to humans, monkeys have been used for more than a century for medical research, including testing the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. (However, in 2015, the NIH announced its support for invasive chimpanzee research.) Before the pandemic, monkeys were mainly imported from China and used for HIV research, according to Mark Lewis, CEO of Bioqual, a vaccine and medical testing company. Lewis’s company was working on testing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on monkeys as part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process. However, he is now struggling to find monkeys as the pandemic has caused China to stop exporting all animal products, including macaques, which he said can now fetch a price as high as $20,000 per animal. “The price has at least doubled in the past four years. Covid has changed everything,” he said, explaining that the United States does not produce enough monkeys domestically to meet demand.

In an email to: Fast company By PETA, Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph wrote that as a conservationist he was “shocked” by the monkey escape incident, adding that the animals, which were bred for export, would no longer be brought to the United States by his company. a major victory for the animal rights organization.

Numerous airlines have exited the monkey business and affirm that they do not send primates for medical testing, with notable holdouts being Air France and Wamos Air, according to PETA vice president Alka Chandna. In an interview with Fast companyChandna said the FDA is married to animal testing, but it is outdated and potentially dangerous to public health, citing the risk of monkey-to-human transmission of disease. She said a bipartisan bill called the FDA Modernization Act, introduced by Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Rand Paul of Kentucky, aims to “decouple the pharmaceutical industry from animal testing” and speed up the FDA approval process.

The bill would not completely end animal testing, but it would allow human clinical trials prior to animal testing. During COVID-19 vaccine studies, clinical trials on humans and animals were conducted simultaneously, leading Chandna to believe that animal testing was not at all crucial to testing efficacy. “We urge the FDA to take this as a lesson learned from the tragedy of the pandemic to say that we are going to let go of this paradigm of animal testing,” she said.

However, for Lewis, testing in monkeys is necessary. “In terms of response, primates are the closest to humans that we have,” he said. “There’s a lot of work being done on mice, but mice aren’t the best for looking at immune responses. They tend to give the wrong answer in many cases.”

Lewis said the monkeys are “fully used” and will not be released or sent to zoos after testing.

“It’s a pretty dark industry. Violent and cruel,” Chandna said, assuming airlines didn’t want their reputations tarnished by association with the practice.

Animal testing is part of public health for Lewis. “We wouldn’t be where we are with the COVID vaccines without doing the primate test in early 2020,” he said. “It helped us get an approved vaccine in nine months.”

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