The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announces the initial purchase of vaccine for the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank. APHIS will invest $27.1 million in foot-and-mouth disease vaccine, which the agency would use in the event of an outbreak to protect animals and help stop the spread of disease.
"While we are confident we can keep foot-and-mouth disease out of the country, as we have since 1929, having access to vaccine is an important insurance policy," says Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach. "Vaccines could be an important tool in the event of an incursion of the disease in the U.S, but their use will depend on the circumstances of the incursion and require careful coordination with the affected animal industries."
Vaccination helps control the spread of infection by reducing the amount of virus shed by animals and by controlling clinical signs of illness. While an outbreak would temporarily disrupt international markets, vaccination would allow animals to move through domestic production channels. FMD is not a threat to public health or food safety. It is also not related to hand, foot and mouth disease, which is a common childhood illness caused by a different virus.
The establishment of a robust foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank — a top, long-term priority for the National Pork Producers Council — came closer to reality today as the USDA announces its first significant vaccine purchase. NPPC was instrumental in advocating for establishment of the FMD vaccine bank as part of the 2018 farm bill.
Currently, the USDA, which has prescribed vaccination for dealing with an FMD outbreak, does not have access to enough vaccine should an outbreak occur. FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep; it is not a food safety or human health threat. The disease is endemic in many parts of the world and would have widespread, long-term fallout for livestock and crop agriculture, including the immediate loss of export markets.
"Today's announcement is momentous, representing years of NPPC advocacy to ensure U.S. agriculture is protected should we have an FMD outbreak," says NPPC President Howard "AV" Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wis. "While U.S. pork producers and other farmers face significant challenges and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a solution to FMD preparedness is in our grasp. We thank USDA and especially Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach for proceeding with such an important effort and look forward to continuing to work with the agency to ensure the FMD vaccine bank is adequately stocked."
The 2018 farm bill provided $150 million in mandatory funding over the next five years for the FMD vaccine bank, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and the National Animal Disease Preparedness Program.
According to Iowa State University research, an FMD outbreak would result in $128 billion in losses for the pork and beef sectors, $44 billion and $25 billion, respectively, to the corn and soybean farmers, and job losses of more than 1.5 million across U.S. agriculture over 10 years.
Boehringer Ingelheim announced in a press release that the company has been awarded a contract by the USDA to help supply the vaccine bank. The contract calls for Boehringer Ingelheim to create and maintain a strategic reserve of frozen vaccine antigen concentrate that the company could quickly formulate into a vaccine for FMD in the event of an outbreak in the United States.
"Boehringer Ingelheim has proudly supported the U.S. livestock industry for decades as a leader in animal vaccine technology," says Everett Hoekstra, president of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc. "Infectious animal diseases can disrupt our food supply, and governments make significant investments to help prevent and prepare for such events."
"As a global leader in the storage and management of FMD vaccine banks, with FMD expertise dating back more than 70 years, Boehringer Ingelheim constantly monitors emerging disease threats," says Steve Boren, vice president of the U.S. Livestock Business at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health.
A USDA spokesperson says Biogénesis Bagó, an Argentina-based company, was also awarded a contract. According to the Biogénesis Bagó website, the company obtained the first registration for a vaccine against FMD in Argentina in 1952.
"This contract enhances Biogénesis Bagó's commitment with animal health evolution worldwide," says Esteban Turic, corporate CEO. The new achievement was possible because of the commitment of the entire team of professionals and technicians at Biogénesis Bagó. Consistent quality standards for its production processes to provide animal health solutions in the most diverse territories are the key for the company to provide high-value technologies from Argentina to the world.
Rodolfo Bellinzoni, COO and Innovation director for Biogénesis Bagó, also a world expert in this disease says, "We have many years of experience, developing technological solutions with high qualified human capital that allowed us to consolidate as a world referent in the fight against foot-and-mouth disease. It is validated with other important achievements as our endorsement as a key player in emergency campaigns during outbreaks in Argentina, Uruguay, Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam. Also we are the only foreign company in China to produce FMD vaccine in the world largest market."
The NAVVCB is one component of a three-part program established by the 2018 farm bill to comprehensively support animal disease prevention and management. The new U.S.-only vaccine bank — a concept APHIS officials have long discussed with stakeholders and industry — makes a much larger number of vaccine doses available than we currently have through the North American Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank. APHIS will continue to participate in the NAFMDVB, and this new program adds to the nation's level of protection against this devastating disease. In the event of an outbreak, animal health officials would decide when, where and how to use the available vaccine, based on the circumstances of the outbreak.