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2019 statistics on use of animals in research in UK

The Home Office has published its annual statistics on the number of animals used in UK research for 2019.

White mouse pair in cage with cardboard tubeKey findings

  • Overall, 3.4 million procedures were carried out involving living animals. This is a 3% decrease from 2018, and the lowest number of procedures since 2007.
  • 51% of all procedures were experimental procedures (1.73 million). The remaining 49% were for the creation and breeding of genetically altered (GA) animals (1.67 million).
  • 93% of all procedures used mice, fish, or rats.
  • Over half (57%) of experimental procedures were for the purpose of basic research, most commonly focusing on the immune system, the nervous system, and cancer.

Why is animal research important?

Research using animals has been a critical component of nearly every advance in immunological science in recent decades and has helped us to understand how the immune system works and develop new treatments against disease.

In 2019, over half (57%) of all experimental procedures were carried out for basic research purposes (984,000 procedures). The most common areas focused on in this research were: the immune system (21%), the nervous system (21%), and cancer (oncology; 15%).

Without animal research, there would be no vaccination against many common diseases, no drugs available to treat infections, and no effective way to control diseases such as diabetes or HIV.

The British Society for Immunology is signed up to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. This means we are committed to being clear and transparent about when, how, and why animals are used in research, and that we will build this messaging into our communications.

Whilst alternatives should always be pursued and research should always adhere to the principles of the '3Rs' to replace, reduce or refine the use of animals in research, we believe that animal research remains essential for future scientific and medical breakthroughs. Read our position statement on the use of animals in scientific research.


Further reading

Home Office annual statistics on animal research >
BSI position statement on the use of animals in immunological research >
Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK >