The Ethics of Animal Testing for Vaccine Development and Potential Alternatives

The Ethics of Animal Testing for Vaccine Development and Potential Alternatives

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Animal testing is important to ensure the safety of a variety of products, specifically pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and medical devices used for surgery and other treatments. It has also been used throughout history for various purposes. Once an unregulated practice, today there are laws, regulations, and requirements associated with the ethical use of animal models. In the United States, animal studies are now required before moving on to clinical trials. Legalities aside, controversy still arises between scientists, and public opinion can vary from unconcerned to extreme. The practice of vaccination is an important part of maintaining public health, and it has proven to be beneficial to both humans and animals. In regard to vaccine development, animal testing during the pre-clinical stage seems to be a necessary part of the process. The growth of technology may provide us with potential alternatives to animal testing, and the search for such alternatives is of ethical importance.
Historically, the use of animals for experimental purposes dates back to early Greek physician-scientists. Aristotle and Galen both conducted experiments on animals in an effort to contribute to our understanding of science and medicine.1 Claude Bernard later established animal experimentation as part of the scientific method. Known as the father of physiology, Bernard stated that “experiments on animals are entirely conclusive for the toxicology and hygiene of man. The effects of these substances are the same on man as on animals, save for differences in degree.”1 Bernard’s work strongly influenced the use of animals in biomedical research, which has become a common, and often required, practice today. The American Medical Association (AMA)...

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...ional Agriculture
Library, Animal Welfare Information Center. 6 April 2014.

7. Kolar, Roman. “Animal Experimentation.” Science and Engineering Ethics. Jan 2006; 12(1): 111-122.
8. Flecknell, Paul. “Replacement, Reduction, Refinement.” Comparative Biology Centre, Medical School, University of Newcastle. 2 March 2012. Presentation at a symposium "Use of animals in research: a science-society controversy?" Doerenkamp-Zbinden-Foundation.
9. Isbrucker, Richard, et al. “Alternative methods and strategies to reduce, refine, and replace
animal use for human vaccine post-licensing safety testing: state of the science and future
directions.” Procedia in Vaccinology 5. 2011; 47-59.

10. Hamilton, Geraldine. “Body Parts on a Chip.” TEDxBoston. June 2013.

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