Russia is considering changing its poultry flock vaccination strategy against avian influenza, taking into account food security concerns that emerged in the background of Western sanctions, Natalya Moroz, deputy production director of the Russian federal centre for animal health told the Russian publication Veterinary & Life.
Industrial poultry farms in Russia have never been ordered to vaccinate their entire poultry populations. Only backyard farms with the free-range keeping of birds in Russia are obliged to inoculate flock against avian influenza, Moroz said.
Mass poultry vaccination in Russia was avoided due to the negative impact it could have on export potential, Moroz said, adding that from the point of view of ensuring safety for humans, the ‘stamping out’ strategy, involving slaughtered all birds at the affected poultry farms, seemed to be a more reliable option of fighting against the disease.
Moroz added that the scientist noted that, on the other hand, avian influenza has undermined food security in several countries where large outbreaks were registered over the past few years. For this reason, some states have already embarked on mandatory mass vaccination at poultry farms.
The Russian authorities are also considering changing the vaccination strategy, Moroz said, adding that this step is being discussed by the Russian Agricultural Ministry, veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, sanitary service Rospotrebnadzor and business groups.
Moroz also said that in the context of tough sanctions imposed by Western countries against Russia, “it is necessary to foresee all scenarios of the development of the epizootic situation in the country”. Moroz added: “And if bird flu becomes a threat to food security, everything will have to be done in order to save the breeding and parent herds. And here, vaccination will become a necessary tool in maintaining the veterinary well-being of the poultry industry.”
A new vaccine against highly pathogenic avian influenza has been recently developed by scientists of the Russian federal centre for animal health. It is slated to be launched in industrial production in early autumn, Moroz said.
The scientist said that the new vaccine was developed on the basis of the Yamal strain of the low-pathogenic influenza A virus of the H5N1 subtype isolated in Russia.
As explained by Moroz, the advantage of the new vaccine lies in its high immunogenicity, i.e., the ability to protect birds from infection with current highly pathogenic influenza A viruses of the H5 subtype. Also, she added, the drug is characterized by high safety associated with the use of an antigen made on the basis of a low-pathogenic influenza A virus of subtype H5 in its composition.