How the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the necessity of animal research

Genzel, Lisa, Adan, Roger, Berns, Anton, van den Beucken, Jeroen J.J.P., Blokland, Arjan, Boddeke, Erik H.W.G.M., Bogers, Willy M., Bontrop, Ronald, Bulthuis, R., Bousema, Teun, Clevers, Hans, Coenen, Tineke C.J.J., van Dam, Anne-Marie, Deen, Peter M.T., van Dijk, K.W., Eggen, Bart J.L., Elgersma, Ype, Erdogan, Izel, Englitz, Bernhard, Fentener van Vlissingen, J. Martje, la Fleur, Susanne, Fouchier, Ron, Fitzsimons, Carlos P., Frieling, Wilbert, Haagmans, Bart, Heesters, Balthasar A., Henckens, Marloes J.A.G., Herfst, Sander, Hol, Elly, van den Hove, Daniel, de Jonge, Marien I., Jonkers, Jos, Joosten, Leo A.B., Kalsbeek, Andries, Kamermans, Maarten, Kampinga, Harm H., Kas, Martien J., Keijer, J.aap, Kersten, Sander, Kiliaan, Amanda J., Kooij, Taco W.A., Kooijman, Sander, Koopman, Werner J.H., Korosi, Aniko, Krugers, Harm J., Kuiken, Thijs, Kushner, Steven A., Langermans, Jan A.M., Lesscher, Heidi M.B., Lucassen, Paul J., Lutgens, Esther, Netea, Mihai G., Noldus, Lucas P.J.J., van der Meer, Jos W.M., Meye, Frank J., Mul, Joram D., van Oers, Kees, Olivier, Jocelien D.A., Pasterkamp, R. Jeroen, Philippens, Ingrid H.C.H.M., Prickaerts, Jos, Pollux, B.J.A., Rensen, Patrick C.N., van Rheenen, Jacco, van Rij, Ronald P., Ritsma, Laila, Rockx, Barry.H.G., Roozendaal, Benno, van Schothorst, Evert M., Stittelaar, K., Stockhofe, Norbert, Swaab, Dick F., de Swart, Rik L., Vanderschuren, Louk J.M.J., de Vries, Taco J., de Vrij, Femke, van Wezel, Richard, Wierenga, Corette J., Wiesmann, Maximilian, Willuhn, Ingo, de Zeeuw, Chris I. & Homberg, Judith R.

Published: 21 September 2020


Recently, a petition was offered to the European Commission calling for an immediate ban on animal testing. Although a Europe-wide moratorium on the use of animals in science is not yet possible, there has been a push by the non-scientific community and politicians for a rapid transition to animal-free innovations. Although there are benefits for both animal welfare and researchers, advances on alternative methods have not progressed enough to be able to replace animal research in the foreseeable future. This trend has led first and foremost to a substantial increase in the administrative burden and hurdles required to make timely advances in research and treatments for human and animal diseases. The current COVID-19 pandemic clearly highlights how much we actually rely on animal research. COVID-19 affects several organs and systems, and the various animal-free alternatives currently available do not come close to this complexity. In this Essay, we therefore argue that the use of animals is essential for the advancement of human and veterinary health.

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