FMD vaccine bank requested

It’s estimated a 
foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Canada could require 1.9 to 2.7 million doses of vaccine

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association is urging the federal government to establish a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank.

In its pre-budget submission to the federal government, the CCA said a foreign animal disease outbreak in Canada would be catastrophic.

“Canada’s modelling has shown that an FMD outbreak in highly populated livestock regions would require between 1.9 million and 2.7 million doses of FMD vaccine,” the document said.

“Currently there’s a significant shortfall in available emergency vaccine and the 14-week vaccine production time frame to produce a vaccine represents a significant risk to our industry and to the Canadian economy.”

CCA general manager David Moss told the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association annual general meeting, held virtually Oct. 14, that CCA has been “pushing hard” for this.

He said the requirement for 2.7 million doses is a worst-case scenario number from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

“Currently we have far less, maybe 250,000 doses, available,” he said.

Canada, the United States and Mexico had established the North American foot-and-mouth vaccine bank, but the U.S. has now moved to its own.

“They’ve also made it quite clear that they would not be willing to share some of that vaccine if we were to have an outbreak up here,” Moss said.

And Mexico, citing financial constraints, pulled out of the North American bank, he said.

That leaves Canada on its own and with access to just 250,000 doses.

An outbreak would hit the Canadian economy to the tune of more than $50 billion, while the annual cost of a vaccine bank is projected at US$1.92 million, excluding potency and licensing testing, according to the budget submission.

“We’re recommending 30 million doses (be in the bank), consisting of 2.5 million doses of 12 different vaccines,” Moss said.

The actions by the U.S. and Mexico, along with changes at the OIE that would allow vaccines to be used as a containment strategy in the event of an outbreak, have opened the door for FMD vaccine to be used in a large-scale outbreak, Moss said.

“Zoning effectively allows trade outside of this identified containment zone to continue with key international markets,” he wrote in an email.

“Prior to this change the entire country was given the same FMD status.”

He said the OIE agreement on how animals within a containment zone are to be managed sets out “much needed clarity” on when an outbreak is declared over.

Another factor is the use of DIVA vaccines, or differentiating infected from vaccinated animals.

“That allows us to again differentiate between animals that have the disease through natural course or those that have been vaccinated so we can manage those two types of animals much more effectively,” he said.

Canada, specifically Saskatchewan, last reported FMD in 1952.

However, Moss said the industry and country should be prepared.

“We really have been playing Russian roulette with FMD in Canada,” he said.

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