COVID-19 Crisis: Boris Johnson and First Ministers Must Embrace New Research Deal

For Immediate Release:

6 August 2020


Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327, ext 222; [email protected]

COVID-19 Crisis: Boris Johnson and First Ministers Must Embrace New Research Deal

PETA Urges Leaders to Adopt ‘Research Modernisation Deal’, as Animal Experiments Fail to Provide Treatments, Vaccines

London – As lockdown measures are eased across most of the UK, PETA is urging the nation’s top brass to seize this watershed moment in history by rejecting animal experiments and moving all vaccine candidates straight to human trials. In these unprecedented times, new candidates have been moved straight to human trials without first going through all the usual animal tests, and PETA scientists want it to stay that way.

In letters sent t to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Northern Irish First Minister Arlene Foster, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, and other senior politicians, PETA shared its Research Modernisation Deal, which lays bare the failure of animal “models” and outlines a strategy for modernising biomedical research and regulatory testing.

The Research Modernisation Deal points to studies showing that 90% of basic research, most of which involves animals, fails to lead to human therapies – as well as evidence that 95% of all new medications that test safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials. Failure rates are even higher in certain disease research areas, including Alzheimer’s (99.6%), cancer (96.6%), HIV/AIDS (100%), and stroke (100%). Yet over 3.5 million procedures were carried out on animals in UK laboratories in 2018 alone – recent reports show that the country is the most prolific user of animals in Europe.

“COVID-19 has given impetus to better ways of conducting scientifically sound, human-relevant research,” says PETA Science Policy Manager Dr Julia Baines. “We’re now safely bypassing animal experiments in favour of methods that’ll tell us what does – and what doesn’t – work in humans far more quickly. This is the essence of the Research Modernisation Deal, and now is the moment to embrace it.”

The Research Modernisation Deal provides a detailed strategy for freeing up funds for available human-relevant methods, including by immediately eliminating the use of animals in areas in which they have already been shown to be poor surrogates for humans, critically reviewing other areas of research to determine where animal use can be phased out, and applying a harmonised system for ensuring the most up-to-date, human-relevant methods are used.

PETA opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. The group’s full letters to the prime minister and other senior figures are available upon request. For more information, please visit