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Animal models for SARS-CoV-2

Since its first detection in December 2019, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) has rapidly spread worldwide, resulting in over 79.2 million documented cases in one year. Lack of pre-existing immunity against this newly emerging virus has pushed the urgent development of anti-viral therapeutics and vaccines to reduce the spread of the virus and alleviate disease. Appropriate animal models recapitulating the pathogenesis of and host responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans have and will continue to accelerate this development process. Several animal models including mice, hamsters, ferrets, and non-human primates have been evaluated and actively applied in preclinical studies. However, since each animal model has unique features, it is necessary to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each according to the goals of the study. Here, we summarize the key features, strengths and weaknesses of animal models for SARS-CoV-2, focusing on their application in anti-viral therapeutic and vaccine development.

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