The Mauritian macaques continue to make more news worldwide, and opposition to vivisection intensifies and becomes more fierce. Where will this tug of war land us? The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) had organised a press conference yesterday at the Labourdonnais Hotel at Caudan to attend to this subject.
The BUAV marches forth with its campaign against the exportation of Mauritian macaques to foreign laboratories, namely in European and American countries, to use the monkeys as cobayes for the testing of medicines. Dr Jarrod Bailey, a British scientist specialising in virology, was the main speaker at the press conference. He has been fighting against vivisection for around 20 years now. He is against the use of animals for testing in labs, mainly because this is not necessary, besides the extreme suffering the animals are made to endure.
Jarrod Bailey argues that the response of macaques to drugs does not necessarily mean that humans will respond in the same manner. Humans and macaques are poles apart when it comes to genetics, metabolism and physiology. The nerve and immune systems do not function in the same way either. The 89% of common genes has never meant that humans and macaques react in exactly the same ways. He further argues that uptil now, no scientific proof has been put forth to prove that clinical testing of animals gives convincing results. Moreover, drugs that have made it to the market following positive results from monkeys have had to be later removed because of major side effects on humans.
Other drugs that had been approved after tests on animals had been done yielded appalling results on the human subjects who volunteered to do the testing. Some volunteers have even died as a result, and others’ health have been greatly affected. The scientist went further to say that there is absolutely no guarantee that humans will respond favourably to a drug if the monkeys have had good results with it.
The arguments of the scientist could not have been complete and thorough if he were not to suggest alternatives. In his opinion, many more alternative methods exist; the latter being less expensive, and more reliable, namely epidemiology, techniques carried out in vitro, and mathematical models amongst others. More modern techniques like microdosing have also yielded positive results so far.