National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

World Day for Laboratory Animals & Lab Animal Week 2020

Posted: 26 March 2020. Updated: 23 April 2020


With latest figures on the use of animals in experiments revealing that the UK is the highest user in the European Union, lab animals in this country need our help more than ever.

More than a quarter of all primates used in European labs, for example, were used here in the UK – including the offspring of primates who have been snatched from the wild to be used as breeding machines. We know how these animals suffer even before they are shipped out to the labs – at a key breeding facility in Mauritius our investigators documenting primates being routinely manhandled and swung by their tails, with baby monkeys torn from their screaming mothers to be tattooed.

Although leaving the EU provides an opportunity for the UK to implement stronger measures to protect animals, there is a risk that more animals could be used in research. In chemical testing, for example, UK companies may lose data sharing privileges that are mandatory under the EU law, REACH, which are intended to avoid unnecessary and duplication of tests. As we have been doing since the referendum, the NAVS and our sister group Animal Defenders International will continue to work with other groups in the UK and across Europe to ensure the animals get the best possible deal.

World Day for Laboratory Animals on 24 April and Lab Animal Week (20-26 April) have commemorated the suffering of animals in laboratories both in the UK and around the world since being founded by the NAVS in 1979.

This year the NAVS and ADI are urging for advanced non-animal methods to be adopted with greater urgency and for animal tests to be phased out through a mechanism known as ‘Thematic Review’. Enshrined in EU but not UK law, the government has indicated its intention to conduct these reviews of animal tests. We now need to make sure they ‘walk the talk’ to avoid delaying scientific progress and risking harm to both animals and people.

The current COVID-19 pandemic highlights the urgent need for action.

In the search for a vaccine, animal researchers are infecting primates and mice with the virus, to try to create an animal model of the disease. Yet it is known such disease models are not the same as the human disease – and the World Health Organization notes that the animal model the researchers seek does not currently exist. There are also concerns animal testing will delay vaccine development.

Funding for a vaccine or treatments for the virus should focus on using advanced technology which relate directly to the disease in humans. Differences in immune systems, biochemistry and the way different species react to disease, drugs and other compounds means that any vaccine ‘safety tested’ on animals may produce misleading results when applied to humans.

Scientists are already making progress and getting results using advanced scientific methods and analytics, including human tissue culture, artificial intelligence-based prediction models and virtual high throughput screening, a technology which allows automated testing of large numbers of compounds. A number of drugs that are already known to be safe in humans have also been identified as potential treatments for COVID-19.

How you can help

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual Lab Animal Week collections and street stalls held by NAVS supporters across the country will not take place in April. There are, however, a number of ways you can still make a world of difference to lab animals and take action this World Day for Laboratory Animals:

  • Sign and share ADI’s petition to Cut Animal Tests to Tackle COVID-19.
  • Share our Lab Animal Week social media posts to raise awareness of the suffering of lab animals and help get others involved.
  • Hold a Facebook fundraiser for the National Anti-Vivisection Society during Lab Animal Week.
  • Urge your MP to insist that researchers use and the Government support more sophisticated, reliable, non-animal methods. Contact them here.
  • Donate here to support our work to help animals in laboratories.

Although our London office is currently closed due to the pandemic, NAVS staff are still working for the animals from home. It may take a little longer to deal with your enquiry but we will respond as soon as we can. Thank you for your support.

© National Anti-Vivisection Society