The U.S. Monkey Shortage

Campbell Treschuk, Staff Writer

Who knew you could have a shortage of monkeys?

Monkeys are used in biomedical testing, especially for testing vaccines. Even though monkeys only make up 0.5% of U.S. research animals, they are usually the last tested before new medicines are tested on humans. Now, there aren’t enough for COVID vaccine research.

One reason for this is a recent supply disruption. Last year, 60% of U.S. monkeys came from China. Early this year, China instituted a rule that made scientists in China complete an approval process to gain research monkeys. Since there is no approval process for researchers from other countries, China’s monkey export has stopped. Monkeys infected with Coronavirus also have to be kept in special labs, which the U.S. has a limited number of.

This means U.S. vaccine testing will be slowed down, which will affect the rate with which vaccines can be available to the public. Some researches are trying to figure out ways to get around this shortage. Some scientists are going ahead and testing the vaccines in people, though we don’t know whether rushing the process by skipping animal tests will have any negative effects on the humans tested.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many shortages. Now, we can add monkeys to that long list.