USDA, Vietnam continue to probe post-inoculation pig deaths

USDA, Vietnam continue to probe post-inoculation pig deaths

Brian Hoskins | Freeimages.com

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) says it is in contact with NAVETCO, which deployed the African swine fever vaccine developed by ARS

Vietnamese authorities continue to investigate the deaths of dozens of pigs that had received a new African swine fever (ASF) vaccine, according to a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Reuters reported on August 24 that “dozens” of approximately 600 inoculated pigs in Phu Yen province died after receiving the NAVET-ASFVAC vaccine, which is distributed in Vietnam by NAVETCO National Veterinary Joint Stock Co. and was developed by ARS. Vietnam temporarily suspended the use of the vaccine after the pig deaths were reported.

After gathering information on the pig deaths last week, ARS said it could not confirm whether the vaccine in question was developed by ARS. ARS says it is closely monitoring the situation and maintains the safety of its vaccine.

“The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service is committed to delivering scientific solutions to national and global agricultural challenges,” a spokesperson told Feed Strategy in an email. “We are closely following the reports of potential adverse events associated with pigs receiving the African swine fever virus vaccine in Vietnam. Our testing shows that the vaccine is safe. It has performed well in robust safety studies and passed all safety testing required by Vietnamese regulatory authorities.”

The spokesperson said NAVETCO’s manufacturing process has been certified by the World Health Organization, and Vietnamese authorities have a robust biologics regulatory program in place with strict quality control measures.

ARS said it has been in contact with NAVETCO, which informed ARS that it does not have additional information beyond what was initially reported.

“NAVETCO officials will keep USDA-ARS abreast of the Vietnamese Department of Animal Health’s ongoing investigation,” the ARS spokesperson said, adding, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture is not involved in the Vietnamese African Swine Fever National Control Program nor the deployment of the NAVET-ASFVAC vaccine. The USDA has not been invited to participate in the ongoing investigation but stands by to offer subject matter expertise as needed.”

Development of the vaccine — the world’s first against ASF — began in early 2022 by NAVETCO National Veterinary Joint Stock Co. in collaboration with experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS). NAVETCO has partnered with ARS on ASF vaccine research and development since 2020. Lab trials of this vaccine revealed it protected at least 80% of pigs for six months.