World’s first vaccine developed for ASF

June 06, 2022 | 14:00
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Vietnam has successfully developed a vaccine to administer to pigs to fight African swine fever, with the aim of becoming the first country in the world to commercially produce and export it.
World’s first vaccine developed for ASF
Navetco has been working on a vaccine for several years

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) last week officially granted the circulation permit for the vaccine against the disease (ASF).

Phung Duc Tien, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the development is “a milestone for the sector.”

Although more than 4,000 studies related to the virus and vaccine development by scientists have been published worldwide, up to now there had been no commercial ASF vaccine available.

The vaccine was developed based on a gene from the United States, which has studied the virus for a decade. In February 2020, Vietnam asked the US to transfer genetically-altered samples of the virus it developed to facilitate vaccine production. The vaccine has the trade name NAVET-ASFVAC and will be produced by National Veterinary JSC (Navetco) under the MARD, with an expected price of around $1.50 per dose.

The safety and efficacy of the new product have been confirmed by the Agricultural Research Service under the US Department of Agriculture, according to Tien.

As the first country in the world to announce the successful production of a commercial ASF vaccine, the potential for export is huge, on top of serving the domestic market demand.

The deputy minister explained that the ASF is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, whose mortality rate can reach 100 per cent. While not a danger to human health, it has devastating effects on pig populations and the farming economy.

“Producing a vaccine for the ASF was one of the leading priorities for the sector as it has caused serious damage for pig-breeding and outbreaks continue to emerge. Vietnam’s product will be a pioneer in removing concerns,” Tien said.

Regarding a commercial circulation plan, in the first phase, the vaccine will be used on a narrow scale. Approximately 600,000 doses are planned for use in some cities and provinces where businesses and households voluntarily register to use it. In the second phase, after an evaluation report, the Department of Animal Health will report to the MARD to direct expansion plans.

Navetco had hoped to bring a commercial vaccine to the market at the end of the second quarter of 2021 after its success in studying and implementing a pilot programme on piglets with a vaccine developed based on a US gene. However, finished products failed to materialise at that time.

Along with Navetco’s vaccine, the University of Agriculture and the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences has also worked with overseas experts to study and clarify the survival mechanism of pigs in outbreaks. Elsewhere, agricultural service provider Dabaco has been concentrating its power sources in collaboration with infrastructure to carry out vaccine production. To date, the group has achieved a range of success in research and testing with high protection.

One of the most devastating livestock diseases, the ASF was first detected in Vietnam in February 2019 and forced the country to cull around one-fifth of its hog herd last year. It originated in Africa before spreading to the European and Asian continents, and has killed hundreds of millions of pigs around the world.

By Nguyen Kim

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