PETA Statement Regarding Using Antibodies From Horses Against the Novel Coronavirus

For Immediate Release:
September 9, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Washington – Please see PETA’s statement regarding Costa Rica researchers beginning trials of a coronavirus treatment based on antibodies from horses.

Resources are best spent on the development of human-based—rather than horse-derived—antibodies. While rapidly searching for lifesaving vaccines and treatments, researchers are turning to fully human, non-animal antibodies for good reason. These antibodies overcome numerous scientific issues associated with antibodies derived from horses, llamas, camels, rabbits, mice, and other animals. In fact, animal-derived antibodies are one of the main drivers of the reproducibility crisis in research.

For scientific and ethical reasons, an end to using animals to produce antibodies was recommended by the European Union Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM), a European government organization that plays a critical role in determining the scientific acceptance and regulatory use of non-animal testing methods within the European Union as well as globally.

Non-animal production platforms eliminate the practical drawbacks of using horse-derived antibodies to treat illness. For example, equine antibodies may cause severe side effects like allergic reactions and serum sickness. In addition, therapeutic antibody products made from horse blood carry the risk of transmitting viruses and other pathogens from horses to humans (zoonoses). Responding to the international demand for antibody-based medicines that are safer and more reliable than those made from horse blood, the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. has funded the creation of fully human antibodies to replace the use of horses and treat disease.

To share information about the applications and benefits of animal-free antibodies, the U.S. National Toxicology Program Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods, the PETA International Science Consortium, and EURL ECVAM are organizing a free, publicly available webinar series. In the first webinar of the series, experts discussed the use of animal-free antibodies to develop vaccines and treatments, including against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 (recording here). The next three webinars will focus on the scientific and economic advantages, applicability, and accessibility of animal-free antibodies.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind