The Home Office has published its annual statistics on the number of animals used in UK research for 2022.
- 2.76 million scientific procedures involving living animals were carried out in Great Britain in 2022. This is a decrease of 10% on last year and lowest number since 2002
- Experimental procedures have decreased by 12% and procedures for creation and breeding have decreased by 6% since 2021
- Experimental procedures made up 55% (1.51 million) of all procedures in 2022. The remaining were for the creation and breeding of genetically altered (GA) animals (1.25 million)
- The majority (96%) of procedures (both for experimental and breeding purposes) used mice, fish, birds or rats. These species have been the most used for more than a decade
- Around half (53%) of all experimental procedures were for basic research. The top three research areas were the nervous system, the immune system and cancer (oncology)
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, including vaccines for COVID-19.
Last year, roughly 800,000 experimental procedures were carried out for basic research purposes. Basic research helps us to learn more about how living organisms and systems function; the top three research areas last year were the nervous system, the immune system and cancer (oncology). Studies into the immune system, the functioning and disease of the nervous system and cancer, including its development and control mechanisms, have been reported within the top five most common areas for basic research in each year since 2014.
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. While we support the use of validated alternatives and believe research should always adhere to the principles of the '3Rs' to replace, reduce or refine the use of animals in research, the use of animals remains essential for future immunological breakthroughs.
Read our position statement on the use of animals in scientific research.