COVID-19 vaccine mandate by Texas Biomed will protect not just humans

Valuable primates will be ‘greatly’ protected from accidental COVID-19 infections

Having played a crucial role in developing COVID-19 vaccines, Texas Biomed is requiring its employees to be vaccinated against the virus.

SAN ANTONIO – In requiring everyone who works at Texas Biomed be vaccinated, Dr. Larry Schlesinger, its president and CEO, said, “We need to set an example of best practices for the community.”

After all, Schlesinger said rhesus macaque monkeys at its Southwest National Primate Research Center were essential in developing the Pfizer vaccine, the first to receive FDA emergency authorization.

“By vaccinating 100% of our employees, we’re also greatly protecting our animals from any accidental infections,” Schlesinger said.

So far, he said, there hasn’t been a single one.

“There can’t be any extraneous variables,” Schlesinger said, given the ongoing research into Covid-19 and many other diseases.

Deepak Kaushal, director of the primate research center, said he and the staff makes certain as much as possible that the 2,500 primates are free from any disease.

He said that way, “They can be maintained as clean, healthy colonies that can then be utilized for research as needed.”

Kaushal said the center’s main focus is to assure that the rhesus macaque monkeys, baboons and marmosets, valued at $8-10,000 each, are well treated.

Despite concerns voiced by animal rights activists, Kaushal said the staff is committed to their humane treatment.

“They believe in these animals and they take care of these animals,” Kaushal said. “Virtually all of them have pets at home and they are really committed to animal welfare.”

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Bill Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.