Vietnam reports initial success in creating African swine fever vaccine

By Bich Ngoc   July 2, 2019 | 02:13 am PT
Vietnam reports initial success in creating African swine fever vaccine
Pigs are seen at a farm outside Hanoi, Vietnam, June 28, 2019. Photo by Reuters/Kham.
An African swine fever vaccine being tested in Vietnam has shown positive results, with injected pigs not getting infected alongside sick ones.

The Vietnam National University of Agriculture (VNUA) started researching a vaccine in late March this year. Thus far, they have developed four kinds of vaccines, one of which has shown good results among 13 out of 14 pigs, principal Pham Thi Lan said at a meeting on Tuesday.

The vaccine was deployed in a small-size experiment room in late April. Out of 14 pigs selected for testing, only one has died from the virus after the first of the two vaccine injections was given.

The results show that the vaccine is highly effective and safe, Lan said. However, because the research and experimentation time has been short, more testing is required, she added.

She suggested the vaccine be tested on a wider scale with repetitive rounds to optimize the formula and quality of the drug. Better vaccine varieties should be developed with more research, she said.

Lan proposed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development quickly provides funds for this work so that it can reach the market soon.

Agriculture Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said at the meeting that the ministry will direct specialized agencies to work with the university to develop the vaccine in Vietnam.

African swine fever first appeared in northern Vietnam in early February and quickly spread across the northern and central regions before reaching the south in May. It has infected 60 out of 63 cities and provinces of the country as of the present. Over 2.9 million pigs of 10 percent of the country's herd, have been culled, causing losses of at least VND3.6 trillion ($154.77 million).

The virus is shed in blood, saliva, tears, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and secretions from the animal's genital tract. Pigs can thus get the infection by contact with many different infected sources, mainly other infected pigs, pork and other pig-derived products but also any other contaminated object, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Data from the World Organization for Animal Health shows that as of June 20, 14 countries and territories were suffering from new or ongoing outbreaks of the disease: Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, mainland China, Hong Kong, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam and South Africa.

The complex nature of the virus and little understanding of its infection has hindered global efforts to develop a vaccine against the disease, which is incurable but does not affect humans. There are now ongoing vaccine researches in the United States, Europe and China.

Without an effective vaccine, the go-to solution whenever an outbreak occurs has been to destroy entire herds.

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