Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Treated with antibodies, Covid gorilla ‘recovering’

Treated with antibodies, Covid gorilla ‘recovering’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Winston, 48, was one of several gorillas among the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's troop who were confirmed positive for the virus. AFP

Treated with antibodies, Covid gorilla ‘recovering’

An elderly gorilla was recovering from a serious case of Covid-19 after he was treated with cutting-edge synthetic antibodies, the San Diego Zoo said on January 25.

Veterinarians are now identifying which animals to inject with the US zoo’s limited supply of vaccines.

Winston, 48, was one of several gorillas among the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s troop who were confirmed positive for the virus on January 11, based on faecal samples.

It was the first known case of natural transmission of the virus to great apes, and was suspected to have occurred because of contact with an asymptomatic staff member, despite the use of personal protective gear.

“The troop was infected with a new, highly contagious strain of the coronavirus, recently identified in California,” San Diego Zoo Global, the non-profit that operates the zoo and safari park, said in a statement.

Two research groups in California have identified a homegrown strain that they believe was driving the Golden State’s year-end surge in infections.

Because of his advanced age, his symptoms and concern about underlying conditions, Winston was examined under anaesthesia.

Veterinarians confirmed the silverback had pneumonia and heart disease, and initiated a treatment that included heart medication, antibiotics, and monoclonal antibody therapy.

Monoclonal antibodies are a lab-made version of the body’s natural infection-fighting proteins, and they are delivered by intravenous infusion.

Covid-19 monoclonal antibodies have been approved for emergency use in the US, and were notably used to treat former president Donald Trump.

But Winston’s treatment came from a supply not permitted for human use, the statement said.


  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Preah Sihanouk hit with travel ban

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration has announced a temporary travel ban to and from the province, except for ambulances and trucks transporting goods. The announcement came after prime minister Hun Sen called on people in the province to travel only if necessary, and that people not

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said