News update:Mar 9, 2016

USDA: AI vaccine not approved for emergency use

Additional criteria must be met before emergency use of vaccine for highly pathogenic avian influenza can be approved, states the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Department evaluated the efficacy of current vaccine options for HPAI in addition to economic impacts of vaccination and has determined that, as it currently stands, "additional criteria must be met before a vaccine can be approved for emergency use. Vaccines currently available are not well matched and do not meet a suitable level of efficacy. USDA also wants to be sure that the vaccine industry is in a position to produce enough doses to create an effective control measure. Finally, additional outreach with trading partners will be required to avoid significant market disruptions," says USDA.

A more effective vaccine

"In the weeks and months ahead, USDA will continue to support efforts to develop a more effective vaccine, assist poultry producers with strong biosecurity measures, indemnify producers for losses, and take aggressive action to maintain open markets for US poultry based on international standards. USDA will continue to encourage development of vaccines for HPAI and will approve vaccines as they are developed and evaluated."

Just 60 percent effectiveness in chickens

Currently, there is lack of a well matched, effective vaccine for HPAI from the public and private sectors, says USDA: "The vaccine currently available offers just 60 percent effectiveness in chickens, leaving 4 in 10 birds unprotected. The vaccine's effectiveness in turkeys is still being studied. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will reevaluate its vaccination decision as more effective vaccines are developed and ready for use, carefully considering both the efficacy of the vaccine and the potential trade impacts. If used, vaccines will be targeted in the states and poultry sectors where they can be most effective. Areas where quarantine, depopulation, and enhanced biosecurity cannot stop the spread of HPAI would be prioritised."

Ban all US exports of poultry and eggs

During the current outbreak, USDA has preserved open markets to countries that account for approximately 84 percent of the value of US poultry and poultry products (including eggs) in 2014. "However, some significant trading partners have indicated that, if we began vaccinating, they would ban all US exports of poultry and eggs until they could complete a risk assessment. Risk assessments are a common method of evaluating these types of requests, and often require a significant amount of time. The loss of these markets could potentially cost US poultry producers billions in lost export sales that would need to be diverted to other export and domestic markets, with no clear timeline for reopening closed markets. USDA will continue to work closely with stakeholders and trading partners throughout the response."

World Poultry

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