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September 10, 2020 - USA Today

America is facing a monkey shortage as demand skyrockets for COVID-19 research, experts say

America is facing a monkey shortage as demand skyrockets for COVID-19 research, experts say
Macaque monkey enslaved in cage, used for testing COVID19 vaccine© Photabulous!

The race for a coronavirus vaccine to help end the pandemic has consumed the scientific community and created an escalating demand for an essential resource: monkeys.

Before drug companies call on human volunteers, monkeys are used in preclinical trials to test a vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

But with more than 100 vaccines in development around the world, there aren’t enough monkeys to go around. “There is a shortage,” said Dr. Skip Bohm, associate director and chief veterinary medical officer of the Tulane National Primate Research Center.

Like other aspects of society, the pandemic has underscored an already existing problem. Nonhuman primate research centers have been strained in recent years because of restrictions on imported monkeys from countries like China and India, and a lack of funding to support domestic breeding.

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