SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Health authorities in northern Chile have fined two veterinarians they say were giving or promoting canine vaccines as false protection against COVID-19.
Roxana Díaz, deputy health secretary for Antofagasta province, said her agency’s workers had gone to the veterinary practice of Maria Fernanda Muñoz in the city of Calama over a report that people there weren’t using masks and were told it was because they were vaccinated.
In an interview Tuesday with the government’s 24 Horas television channel, Muñoz acknowledged giving herself and several people in her office a vaccine aimed at canine coronavirus, and argued she hadn’t become ill. That occurred last year, before any COVID vaccines had been approved in Chile.
“The truth is, it’s very dangerous,” Díaz said. “There are studies that say the effects can be local – irritation caused by the medications it has – or systemic. But we haven’t done a study of what happens inoculating a person with canine vaccines because that would be unethical.”
The U.S. based VCA veterinary hospital chain includes a reference on its website warning against confusing the new human coronavirus — one of a broad family of viruses that affect many species — with the one that causes an intestinal ailment in dogs that is targeted by canine vaccines.
Díaz said another veterinarian, Carlos Pardo, had been falsely promoting use of the canine vaccine for humans.
The health department fined Pardo the equivalent of about $9,200 and Muñoz about $10,300. Both have appealed.
Chile has now vaccinated 7.7 million of its 19 million people with at least one dose of legitimate COVID-19 vaccines.