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Monkeys on the interstate: Risk minimal, research benefits proven

Paula Clifford
Americans for Medical Progress
The driver of a pickup transporting monkeys pulls a crate of monkeys off of state Route 54 at the intersection with Interstate 80 near Danville, Pa., Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, after the pickup and trailer were hit by a dump truck. They were transporting 100 monkeys and several were on the loose at the time of the photo. (Jimmy May/Bloomsburg Press Enterprise via AP)

Last weekend’s truck crash in Pennsylvania, which sadly resulted in the deaths of three research monkeys, has naturally received widespread media attention. It’s also unsurprising those opposed to animal research — despite the fact that it benefits both humans and animals alike — have quickly sought to capitalize off the situation.

Here’s a reality check.

First, the risk posed to humans is minimal. Only a handful of people approached the animals. Nobody appears to have been bitten or scratched.

More:Police: Truck with 100 monkeys crashes in Pa., some of them missing

More:Don't approach lab monkey missing after crash: Pennsylvania authorities

More:All 100 lab monkeys accounted for after several escape Pa. crash

Furthermore, stories that a local resident became ill are reportedly untrue. This is according to the woman herself, who told her local newspaper: “I want people to know that I’m not sick despite what they read in the media.” She is wisely following the advice of federal health experts and is receiving preventative treatment as a precautionary measure.

Additionally, as unfortunate as this accident was, we must not lose sight of the simple fact that health studies in animals — including monkeys — are a critical and necessary part of the research process. They allow for new treatments and cures. For example, all of the COVID-19 vaccines were developed and tested in animals.

Simply put, we would not be able to effectively combat the current pandemic without animal studies. This is a fact whether the animal rights groups that seek to capitalize off this sad event like it or not.

— Paula Clifford is the executive director of Americans for Medical Progress.