In a storyline that Steven Soderbergh would reject for being too far-fetched, a gang of monkeys in India reportedly attacked a laboratory technician and stole a batch of Covid-19 samples.
The monkeys – red-faced rhesus macaques which are deemed a “menace” due to the chaos they cause in urban areas – snatched test samples from the unlucky technician as they were carrying them through the grounds of Meerut Medical College.
The blood samples had been taken from three Covid-19 patients for testing.
Meerut: Monkey run away with #corona test samples, locals fear spread of infection. #IndiaFightsCoronavirus https://t.co/Mpe9tuR3H6
The Times of India reported that one of the monkeys was later seen perched in a tree, chewing on the samples.
The incident was captured on footage that is now circulating the internet and sparking fears that the primates could further spread infection in the area – or a brand new strain.
A biologist previously warned of a scenario in which monkeys became infected with a mutated version of the virus, telling The Hindu:
The worst-case scenario is that SARS-CoV-2 mutates and infects other primate species.
This could lead to many scenarios, such as the virus affecting the health of the affected animal populations or the animals serving as reservoirs or hosts and spreading the disease to other species or human populations.
However, an official Meerut Medical College said there was “no evidence” that monkeys could contract the infection.