PerspectiveCoronavirus

The search for a COVID-19 animal model

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Science  29 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6494, pp. 942-943
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc6141

Summary

As the pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continues to cause worldwide upheaval, scientists are racing to find appropriate animal models to study the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) attributed to the virus. The optimal animal model will depend on the scientific question. On page 1016 of this issue, Shi et al. (1) describe severe viral burden and airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between cats and ferrets, highlighting an important animal model for SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Additionally, on page 1012 of this issue, Rockx et al. (2) found that young and aged cynomolgus macaques infected with SARS-CoV-2 shed virus in the upper and lower respiratory tract, but failed to develop severe clinical symptoms. These animal models offer distinct platforms to ask specific questions about SARS-CoV-2 infection, induction of disease, and transmission.

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