Agencies search for ASF vaccine

VIDO-InterVac is helping lead the way developing a vaccine for African swine fever.

In May, more than 30 different vaccine candidates for the disease are scheduled for efficacy testing at the International Development Research Centre in Winnipeg.

The current candidates are the result of a six-year collaboration between VIDO-InterVac at the University of Saskatchewan, Canadian Food Inspection Agency researchers at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg, as well as South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council.

“What VIDO has done over the last few years is develop new vaccine candidates and they are being tested now in Winnipeg in infection trials where we actually expose pigs to African swine fever,” said chief executive officer Volker Gerdts.

“VIDO recognizes it’s a very important disease and will intensify its work on it but it requires permission from the government to work with the disease.”

Globally, he said Canada is trying to take a lead role for finding a successful vaccine for ASF.

“Our industry is on high alert and working closely with the government on finding solutions for it,” he said.

Neil Ketilson, general manager at the Sask Pork Development Board, agrees.

“We certainly are and there’s a whole host of things going on in the background,” he said.

The CFIA in Ottawa is hosting an international conference at the end of April, which will bring together about 150 stakeholders to review the status of vaccine research for the disease as well as explore options for prevention and response time if ASF is found in Canada.

“I think this is a good example actually where the government is working closely with the industry,” said Gerdts.

Added Ketilson: “We’re really high on the prevention. We don’t want it in Canada and we’re going to do everything we can to keep it out,” he said.

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