Scientists looking at other animals that can contract Covid-19

Coronavirus schematic

We have read about tigers contracting Covid-19 from zookeepers at the Bronx zoo and we have read about domestic cats and mink (and a mink farm in Aragon, Spain) getting it so there is a concern amongst the scientific community that animals might create a reservoir for the virus once humans have sorted themselves out with a vaccine that provides protection for the indefinite future, God willing.

It has been decided that dozens of animals may be vulnerable to the virus. Many animals are in regular contact with people and the researchers from University College London have suggested 26 animals including horses and livestock such as pigs and sheep may contract the disease while other species may be vulnerable to it and therefore there needs to be further investigation in that regard.

Coronavirus schematic

Coronavirus schematic. Image in public domain.


The researchers investigated how the spikes on the coronavirus protein interacts with the ACE2 protein that it attaches to when it infects people. They researched whether mutations in the ACE2 protein could reduce the stability of the binding between the virus and the protein. They think that the virus is less likely to infect an animal if it cannot form a stable binding with the ACE2 protein.

The study, which is published in Scientific Reports, indicated that the proteins will be able to bind together as strongly in animals as they do in people. The objective of the study was to look beyond the animals that they know can be infected and to see whether they can do something about preventing infections.

The study indicated that most birds, fish and reptiles do not appear to be at risk of infection while the majority of the mammals that they reviewed had a higher potential to be infected. Ferrets and macaques are also susceptible and they have been infected in laboratory studies.