To cure the humans, first you get the monkeys sick. Finding the right animal as a research model for the new and deadly coronavirus is crucial for learning how to treat it. The ideal subject is a non-human primate that shows similar symptoms: coughing, sneezing, fever and chest congestion. The hunt is on in the U.S., tightly coordinated among a small coalition of labs authorized to raise monkeys
“It’s the only way to understand it,” said Jean Patterson, a virologist at Texas BioMedical Research Institute, a private nonprofit in San Antonio devoted to eliminating infectious diseases. Study animals are scarce, so labs avoid duplicating efforts on the same species. The University of Wisconsin’s primate center is starting with marmosets. Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana is working with rhesus macaques.