The long-awaited solution against African Swine Fever (ASF) might just be around the corner: The Philippines’ Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has officially recommended the Avac vaccine, manufactured in Vietnam.
Avac worked closely with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in researching the ASF vaccine. The vaccine was tested in Vietnam, where ASF is a constant threat. ASF has been disrupting the $ 250 billion global pork market for years. The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) reports that ASF has been found in nearly 50 countries since 2021 and caused about 1.3 million pig deaths.
Proven safety and efficacy in clinical trials
BAI deputy director Dr Arlyn Asteria Vytiaco confirmed that a letter of recommendation has been submitted to the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval. The vaccine has demonstrated its safety and efficacy in clinical trials conducted across 6 farms in the Philippines’ Luzon region. The clinical trials conducted by the BAI revealed a significant increase in antibodies against ASF in all the samples. However, before the Avac vaccine can be imported, it requires a registration certificate.
The Philippines’ FDA said it will soon evaluate the vaccine’s efficacy. FDA spokesperson Job Aguzarconfirmed that the application has been received and will undergo pre-assessment. If deemed acceptable, the FDA will proceed with evaluating the submitted dossier to determine the quality, safety, and efficacy of the ASF vaccine, before the importation and nationwide distribution.
Upon approval, the BAI plans to import a minimum of 600,000 doses from the Vietnamese manufacturer. The Avac vaccine is a single-shot vaccine designed for pigs aged 4 to 10 weeks. The guidelines for the vaccine roll out will be released once the FDA grants the registration certificate. Dr Vytiaco said that the vaccination will be not mandatory, but that pig producers will be encouraged to use it once the vaccine becomes commercially available.
Although pricing details for the Avac vaccine have not been disclosed yet, the Department of Agriculture assured pig producers that efforts would be made to ensure accessibility, even for backyard farmers. In a CNN Philippines report, the Philippines’ government is urged to provide subsidies.
Potential worldwide reach
The Avac vaccine is expected to go global in curbing the effects of ASF. Although there are no major outbreaks at this moment, Rabobank warned that the potential spread remains among the top risks to the global pork industry, especially in China. China might therefore be one of the countries to jump at the opportunity to grab the vaccine.
Gregorio Torres, head of the science department at the WOAH, told Reuters: “We have never been so close to getting a vaccine that may work,” hinting at the possibility that the vaccine would be authorised for global sales.
US agriculture secretary Thomas Vilsack said there was likely to be interest in precautionary purchases in his country, despite the US having so far been spared from ASF. “There will be a specific interest obviously,” Vilsack said, speaking about possible purchases of the Vietnamese vaccines.