Vietnam partners with United States to develop first African swine fever vaccine
- Deadly virus swept across China from 2018, slashing herds in the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork, boosting imports and sending meat costs soaring
- Officials did not give a time frame for the vaccine’s roll-out or any indication of Vietnam’s capacity to produce it at scale
The country partnered with scientists at the Agriculture Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture to develop the vaccine, which is now being produced in Vietnam, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Phung Duc Tien said on the government’s website.
The virus is highly contagious in hogs and can be 100 per cent lethal for the animals, causing high fever, loss of appetite and haemorrhaging on the skin and internal organs. Governments have sought to control the disease by culling herds, restricting transport of pigs and improving hygiene on farms. Global efforts to find a safe and effective vaccine had long proved elusive.
Still, scientists with the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service have been working on a vaccine, which is based on deleting a gene, and the agency announced in April that it had passed a key safety test needed for regulatory approval.
The agency said that the safety studies were necessary to get the green light for use in Vietnam and eventually other countries, and commercial use will depend on approval from animal health departments in each nation.
Vietnam said this week it imported the attenuated strain from the US in 2020 and carried out more research, which showed that it provides immunity for six months. Navetco National Veterinary JSC is producing the vaccine in the country, and the USDA confirmed in May its safety and efficacy, said deputy minister Tien. Vietnam is looking to export the vaccine, he said.
“The production and commercial registration of the vaccine is a historic event,” Tien said.
“We are confident to produce pig swine fever vaccine for domestic prevention and will also aim at export,” he said.
However, officials did not give a time frame for the vaccine’s roll-out or any indication of Vietnam’s capacity to produce it at scale.
Five Vietnamese clinical lab trials “showed 100 per cent of vaccinated pigs were protected against toxicity in the laboratory,” Tian added.
An official circulation licence for Vietnam would be issued on Friday at a ceremony launching the jab, the Department of Animal Health said.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse