Animal Research in Switzerland in 2019

August 24th 2021

We have translated the statistics for animal research conducted in Switzerland in 2019 and these data are summarized below. Overall, there were 572,069 animals used in research and animal testing in Switzerland in 2019 — a 2.4% decrease compared to 2018.

According to the Federal Veterinary Office, the BLV, this decrease is “mainly due to the completion of various projects with a large number of fish and amphibians”. Most of these animals were involved in basic research (61%), with “discovery, development and quality control” being the next most common (22%). The remainder were used for other reasons including disease diagnosis, education and training and protecting the environment. Mice were again the most prevalently used species (68%).

95% of the animals used in research and testing was conducted on mice, rats, fish, and birds, similar to other European countries. Primates (234), cats (257) and dogs (2040), which often receive special attention in the media and by the public, together accounted for 0.44% of all research animals, with an overall decrease of 333 animals from 2018 for these species.

Severity in Switzerland works in the follow way (Translated definitions of the severity grading procedure for animals used in experiments in Switzerland):

The following four categories are used for constraints on animals resulting from procedures or measures in the context of animal experiments:

  • Severity grade 0: no constraint: Procedures and actions performed on animals for experimental purposes that do not inflict pain, sufffering or harm on the animals, engendr fear or impair their general well-being;
  • Severity grade 1: mild constraint: Procedures and actions performed on animals for experimental purposes that cause short-term mild pain or harm or mild impairment of general well-being;
  • Severity grade 2: moderate constraint: Procedures and actions performed on animals for experimental purposes that cause short-term moderate or medium-long term mild pain, suffering or harm, short term moderate fear or short to medium-term severe impairment of general well-being;
  • Severity grade 3: severeconstraint: Procedures and actions performed on animals for experimental purposes that cause medium to long-term moderate pain or severe pain, medium to long term moderate harm or severe harm, long-term severe fear or a severe impairement of general well-being

Pain, suffering and harm, were also measured and classified under four grades of severity; 0, 1, 2 and 3. In 2019, 39% of experiments were Grade 0, 30% were Grade 1, 28% were Grade 2 and 3% were Grade 3. These numbers are relatively consistent across time, with on average 77% of all animals being exposed to no or minor short-lasting pain and distress.

There was a steady downward trend in the number of animals used in research in Switzerland from 1983-1995, with numbers remaining reasonably constant thereafter.

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