Government contracts to be placed for supply of avian influenza vaccine

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has invited tenders to supply a further ten million doses of avian influenza vaccine for potential use in poultry and other captive birds.

In a written ministerial statement laid before the House, Ministers stressed that this does not change the policy that high standards of surveillance and biosecurity, early reporting of suspect cases and culling remain the most effective ways of preventing avian influenza and tackling an outbreak.

The Chief Veterinary Officer has recommended this step be taken as a precaution to ensure that Defra has every tool available to tackle an avian influenza outbreak, in light of uncertainties about the future spread and nature of the virus.

Defra has tendered for vaccine which could be used against both H5 and H7 strains of the disease, but it will only be used if a risk assessment and scientific evidence indicated it would help to prevent disease spread.

This step comes after 2.3 million doses of vaccine bought earlier this year for a possible risk based preventive vaccination of zoo birds.

For more information, see Defra's statement on the vaccine supply tender.


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