Amid Worldwide COVID Vaccine Shortages, Some Vets Are Injecting Individuals with Canine Meds

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Given the global shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in poorer countries, some residents of Chile tried to make themselves immune to the virus by injecting themselves with medication for dogs.

The number of COVID-19 cases is increasing worldwide. In the past week, 5.6 million new COVID-19 cases were reported worldwide. Cases have risen particularly in Brazil, India, Iran, Peru and Turkey. While one in four people in rich countries received a vaccine dose, only one in 500 people in poorer countries received a vaccine dose, according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, director general of the World Health Organization.

As of April 23, the US is still reporting around 60,000 new COVID-19 cases per day. But unlike the US and other countries like China, UK, Germany and South Korea, poorer countries cannot produce their own cans domestically. As such, they must secure them in the international market. This has proven difficult for a number of reasons.

Some countries have tried to buy cheaper vaccines like the Russian Sputnik or the Chinese Coronavac, but manufacturers cannot keep up with demand, according to the WLRN.

President Joe Biden has so far refused to ship US vaccine supplies overseas. Biden has said he wants to make sure Americans are vaccinated before cans are shipped to other countries. Even so, Biden made the US the largest funder of COVAX, a global initiative to provide vaccines to poorer countries.

Amid a global vaccine shortage, two Chilean vets were fined for administering canine medication to provide immunity to the coronavirus. In this photo illustration, a veterinarian prepares to give an injection to a dog.
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Despite Biden’s investment, COVAX’s inventory has recently suffered three problems. Most importantly, there aren’t enough vaccines to buy.

Second, due to its skyrocketing COVID-19 case numbers, India recently declined its promise to use its domestically manufactured Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to create a third of the COVAX reserves for that vaccine.

Third, there has been a global shortage of 2,000 liter bags in which to grow the vaccine cells for Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax vaccines in the UK. The bag’s makers have told some drug companies that they could wait up to 12 months for new deliveries as global demand has outpaced production, The Guardian reported.

UNICEF data showed that COVAX approved fewer than 2 million doses of COVAX for shipping to 92 developing countries in the first two weeks of April, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Last week, the agencies behind COVAX celebrated the delivery of 38 million vaccines to over 100 countries. But Brook Baker, a vaccines expert at Northeastern University, called the celebration “deaf,” as the doses would only help 19 million people, or 0.25 percent of the world’s population.

The introduction of vaccines went better in Chile than in poorer countries. According to NPR journalist Tim Padgett, the country has administered about 13 doses per 100 residents.

However, two vets in Chile admitted Tuesday to government health officials that they had vaccinated up to 100 people with Óctuple, a medicine used to boost dogs’ immune systems against eight diseases.

A veterinarian, Maria Muñoz, said she only gave the medication to herself, her family members and co-workers. The other vet, Carlos Prado, said he only gave the medicine to himself. They did so at a time when vaccination was not available, the Associated Press reported.

Óctuple doesn’t make dogs immune to COVID-19, and no studies have shown that animal medicines can make people immune to coronavirus as well. Óctuple contains live cultures of virus that may have made its recipients sick, although none of them allegedly mentioned they had a disease.

Even so, government health officials fined Muñoz 10 million pesos ($ 10,300) and Pardo a little over 9 million pesos (about $ 9,200) for their actions.

Newsweek contacted WHO for comment.