AjeyoLAST UPDATED: Aug. 7, 2020, 12:43 p.m.
New Delhi: The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have sent letters, co-signed by an expert primatologist, calling on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology to reverse the decision to allow the monkeys' capture and use.
PETA took the step on the basis of the recent reports which alluded to the approval given by the Maharashtra government to capture thirty wild rhesus macaques for the National Institute of Virology for use in tests for a Covid-19 vaccine.
In its letter, PETA outlines the well-established scientific drawbacks of using wild monkeys for experiments, discusses the risk that those who capture or handle the monkeys could contract zoonotic diseases such as Kyasanur forest disease, and highlights the importance of using superior non-animal technology to develop Covid-19 vaccines.
"Conducting Covid-19 research using wild monkeys is dangerous, as they're likely infected with pathogens that will skew the results and put laboratory workers at risk of contracting zoonotic diseases," says PETA India Science Policy Adviser Dr. Dipti Kapoor.
She added, "PETA India is asking NIV to develop safe and effective Covid-19 treatments and vaccines using modern, animal-free methods instead of cruel and wasteful animal tests."
Scientists worldwide are researching and developing Covid-19 treatments using human-relevant, animal-free technology - such as human organoids, organs-on-chips, and supercomputers - since animal tests are often misleading, time-consuming barriers to introducing life-saving drugs.