Indictment of Monkey Smugglers Raises Research Concerns

Overseas suppliers of one of the main monkey species used to test COVID-19 vaccines and study Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases have been charged with illegally exporting as many as 2,000 of the endangered species, cynomolgus macaques, to the United States for research between 2018 and 2021. Two officials with Cambodia’s Department of Wildlife and Biodiversity were also charged.

“According to the DOJ indictment, two high-ranking employees of Vanny Resources Holdings, a Hong Kong-based company that breeds monkeys for research, paid millions to black market suppliers and Cambodian wildlife officials to capture thousands of cynos from national parks and other protected areas of Cambodia, and to fake their paperwork to indicate the animals had been bred in captivity,” according to an article in Science magazine.

The article goes on to say that the indictments will likely exacerbate the shortage of these monkeys, which are used by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for drug safety testing and vaccine research.

Read: “Indictment of monkey importers could disrupt U.S. drug and vaccine research” in Science.

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