It’s certainly not the biggest news of the year, nor is it the most significant of changes, but it definitely deserves some attention. A 2020 Gallup Poll found that 56% of Americans believe medical testing on animals is morally acceptable (Brennan, 2020). Yes, this is just barely a majority, but it is a 5% increase over 2019 and that is significant.
The percentage of Americans who find medical testing on animals morally acceptable has not been as high as 56% since 2015, according to Gallup. As you can see by the graph below this number has been trending down, albeit slowly, for a long time. Could COVID-19 have turned this trend around?
While 56% of Americans find medical testing on animals to be morally acceptable, 39% find it morally wrong, according to Gallup. This is also a significant decrease of 5% since 2019 when 44% of Americans found animal testing morally wrong.
Of course, all of us in the industry of animal research understand the importance of medical testing on animals and recognize the difficulty of swaying people’s opinions on such a topic that some find cruel and unnecessary. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has helpfully brought medical testing on animals into the national spotlight. In March, he stated when speaking about a vaccine for COVID-19, “There are diseases in which you vaccinate someone, they get infected with what you are trying to protect them with, and you actually enhance the infection. You can get a good feel for that in animal models.”
In fact, according to the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), “Laboratories across the world are working with animal models—including mice, hamsters, ferrets, and nonhuman primates—in the race for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Researchers are developing devices such as ventilators to treat patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19 thanks to animal models” (2020).
Medical testing on animals in undeniably more important than ever, and Gallup’s indication of an increase in the moral acceptability of the topic may not be considered enormously important or significant; but if the pandemic has caused more Americans to rethink their position in favor of moral acceptability, that’s a very good sign for science.
Brenan, M. (2020, June 30). Record-Low 54% in U.S. Say Death Penalty Morally Acceptable. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/poll/312929/record-low-say-death-penalty-morally-acceptable.aspx.
Foundation for Biomedical Research. (2020, June 29). Moral Acceptability of Medical Testing on Animals Increases: Gallup Poll. [E-Mail].
Gallup. (2020). Moral Issues. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/poll/1681/moral-issues.aspx.