The number of scientific testing procedures on live animals rose 6% last year, new data shows.
Some 3.06 million animal tests were carried out across Britain in 2021, up from 2.88 million in 2020 – the lowest since 2004.
Data from the Ministry of the Interior shows that experimental procedures (1.73 million) increased by 20% last year and accounted for 57% of all procedures.
Creation and breeding procedures decreased by 8%.
According to data for England, Scotland and Wales, 96% of procedures (both experimental and breeding) used mice, fish or rats.
These varieties have been most commonly used for more than ten years.
According to the data, about half (51%) of the experimental procedures were for basic research.
The top three research areas were the nervous system, the immune system and cancer (oncology).
Nic Wells, professor of translational medicine, Royal Veterinary College, and chair of the Animals Sciences Group, Royal Society of Biology, said: “The increase in animal testing is not unexpected as the figure was particularly low in 2020 (down from 15 % on 2019 figures), most likely due to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There is also an increase in the number of experimental procedures compared to the number of procedures involving the breeding of genetically modified animals, particularly in the field of applied research, which may reflect a change in research priorities following the Covid pandemic.”
Some animals may be used more than once under certain circumstances, so the number of procedures performed in a year is not equal to the number of animals used.
Specially protected species – cats, dogs, horses and non-human primates – were used in 1% of experimental procedures (18,000) by 2021.
Understanding Animal Research (UAR), an organization that promotes open communication on the subject, said animal testing is a small but important part of research into new drugs, vaccines and treatments for humans and animals.
Ten organizations accounted for almost half (49%) of all animal research in the UK last year.
They were the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, UCL, the Francis Crick Institute, the University of Edinburgh, the Medical Research Council, King’s College London, University of Glasgow, University of Manchester and Imperial College London.
The UAR has also compiled a list of 63 organizations in the UK that have publicly shared their 2021 research statistics, all of which are listed as signatories to the UK’s Concordat on Openness on Animal Research.
Wendy Jarrett, chief executive of UAR, which developed the Concordat on Openness, said: “Animal research remains a small but vital part of the search for new medicines, vaccines and treatments for humans and animals.
“We know that the majority of the UK public accepts that animals are needed for this research, but it is important that organizations that use animals for research maintain the public’s trust in them.
“By providing this level of information about the number of animals used and the experience of those animals, as well as details of the medical breakthroughs resulting from this research, these Concordat signatories are helping the public form their own opinions about how they feel.” the use of animals in scientific research in Great Britain.”