Can Vaccines for Wildlife Prevent Human Pandemics?

By Rodrigo Perez Ortega | Quanata Magazine | August 24, 2020

Scientists still debate whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in a bat or a pangolin. But they are sure that this coronavirus is only the most recent example of a zoonosis — an infectious disease that passes from animals to humans. From HIV to Ebola virus, Nipah virus and bird flu, pathogens lurking in wildlife have repeatedly found a way to “spill over” into humans, as epidemiologists put it. Between 2009 and 2019, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s early-warning pandemic system, PREDICT, detected more than 1,000 new viruses with zoonotic potential in wild animals. The COVID-19 pandemic will not be the last one.

But what if we could prevent the next pandemic by stopping its spread in animals before it jumped to us? Could this be achieved with vaccines that spread through a wild population on their own? Some scientists think so.