Vietnam may have African swine fever vaccine by 2021: agriculture minister

By Staff reporters   November 10, 2020 | 03:00 am PT
Vietnam may have African swine fever vaccine by 2021: agriculture minister
A farmer holds up a newborn pig in Quang Nam Province, May 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.
Vietnam might have a vaccine for African swine fever next year following optimistic small-scale test results, said agricultural minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong.

The country has managed to isolate and form a "bank of African swine fever virus" in Vietnam as the foundation for future research, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong told a National Assembly meeting on Monday.

"Initial vaccine tests on small scales have provided optimistic results. According to reports from experts and businesses in charge of technology transference, Vietnam might have a vaccine for African swine fever by the third quarter of 2021 if conditions allow," Cuong said.

Research institutions have also bred certain pigs with antibodies against the African swine fever virus, from which they selected 85 pigs that survived in major outbreak hotspots. The disease-resistant breeds would prove to be an important factor in dealing with African swine fever, said Cuong, adding the agriculture ministry supports farming models using bio-products.

Scientists have also focused on sequencing the genes of the virus for vaccine research, performing epidemiological studies to create biosafety procedures and disease prevention methods, and produced bio-products in pig farming to boost their immune system and curb diseases, he said.

In February, Vietnam requested the U.S. to transfer genetically altered samples of the African swine fever virus it has developed to facilitate vaccine production. U.S. experts earlier said they had developed a vaccine against the disease, developed from a genetically modified virus strain to produce complete attenuation of the virus in swines.

African swine fever was first spotted in Vietnam in February last year in the northern Hai Duong Province, before spreading throughout all 63 cities and provinces. Outbreaks have sparked in several regions since, forcing around six million pigs to be culled, amounting to over 340,000 tons, or 9 percent of the nation’s total pig mass.

The virus spreads via blood, saliva, tears, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and secretions from the animal's genital tract. Pigs can thus get infected by mere contact with many different infected sources, mainly other infected pigs, pork and other pig-derived products.

African swine fever is a deadly and incurable disease for pigs, but does not affect humans.

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