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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman May 1, 2020

A canine coronavirus vaccine exists. But it has nothing to do with COVID-19

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  • Social media posts featuring a photo of a vial of canine coronavirus vaccine is legitimate, but the vaccine is for a gastrointestinal issue in dogs and has nothing to do with COVID-19.

There is currently no vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 that has infected millions of people around the world.

But some posts on Facebook point out that a canine coronavirus vaccine has been around for years, and question why it hasn’t been made for humans.

One post shares a photo displaying a vial of the vaccine, with text along the top that says, "Now this was 2001 tell me why 19 years later they say there is no vaccine share before they take it down again." 

The post’s caption reads: "Canine vaccine for dogs and not humans? And since 2001.....STAY WOKE PEOPLE!!" Other versions that have been debunked went even further and questioned why the dog vaccine isn’t being used in humans. 

A couple of key problems here:

  1. The vaccine is for dogs, not humans.

  2. It’s not for COVID-19.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

RELATED: Bovine coronavirus vaccine won’t help humans

The term "coronavirus" refers to a large family of viruses that are known to cause various illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization.

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 at the center of the current pandemic was discovered in 2019. It had not been previously identified in humans. No vaccine for it could have been developed before that.

The vaccine in the photo is real, but it’s for canine coronavirus disease, known also as CCoV. 

Merck Animal Health makes the vaccine and now includes a note on its webpage explaining that canine coronaviruses "are not the same virus as SARS-CoV-2 that is responsible for causing the COVID-19 infection."

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, which operates nearly 800 animal hospitals in the U.S., the canine coronavirus comes from the Coronaviridae family and is a "highly infectious intestinal infection in dogs, especially puppies." 

"There are many types of coronavirus, each affecting different animal species, including humans. Canine coronavirus (CCoV) is not the same virus as SARS-CoV-2," which causes COVID-19, the company says. "CCoV does not affect people. CCoV causes gastrointestinal problems in dogs, as opposed to respiratory disease."

A vaccine is available for dogs with canine coronavirus, which causes gastrointestinal issues. It is not for prevention of COVID-19 in humans; there is no vaccine for that.

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A canine coronavirus vaccine exists. But it has nothing to do with COVID-19

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