China enacts stricter crackdown of illegal ASF vaccines

China enacts stricter crackdown of illegal ASF vaccines

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New effort reportedly more comprehensive than previous ones

China says it has enacted a strict crackdown on illegal vaccines for African swine fever (ASF).

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in September 2019 that it would issue a similar crackdown, but reports say the newest effort is more comprehensive.

According to Reuters, the latest effort includes several measures:

  • Provincial authorities will carry out inspections at veterinary laboratories, drug producers and pig farmers for any evidence they could have developed or used an illegal vaccine.
  • Authorities must investigate veterinary laboratories used for research or commercial purposes and check any unlabeled vaccines and disease materials or reagents along with the records of experiments.
  • Closer supervision of clinical trials and pilot production of vaccines to ensure there is no illegal transfer of the pilot product.
  • Provincial authorities will inspect veterinary product manufacturers and pig breeders, checking immunization records on farms and running tests on pigs to search for different strains of the ASF virus, which could indicate previous use of a vaccine.

To date, there have not been any successful ASF vaccines developed. The ministry warned last year that the use of unapproved vaccines could cause “unpredictable biosecurity risks” and could further spread the disease or introduce a new strain.

Vaccine development advances

Meanwhile, an ASF vaccine developed by researchers at the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) has seen promising results and will advance to the next phase, the ministry reported this month.

According to a CAAS researcher, clinical trials were conducted on 3,000 pigs from April to June. “The vaccine was given to piglets and sows at 10 times and 100 times the proposed immunization dose,” the South China Morning Post reported. “The experimental vaccine generated at least 80% immune protection, depending on the dose.”

Throughout the 20-week trial, pigs that received the vaccination showed no clinical abnormalities or signs of disease.

The ministry said the CAAS would expand the clinical and production trial stage, with a goal of completing trials “soon.” It is unknown when the vaccine would be available on the market if the expanded trials are successful.

View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.