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Vietnam, U.S. creating first ASF vaccine

Animal disease research

Vietnam has collaborated with U.S. experts to produce the world’s first commercially viable vaccine against African swine fever, a disease that has killed millions of hogs across Asia and pushed up global pork prices.

The country partnered with scientists at the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service to develop the vaccine, which is now being produced in Vietnam, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Phung Duc Tien said on the government’s website.

The deadly hog virus swept across China from 2018, slashing herds in the world’s biggest producer and consumer of pork, boosting imports and sending meat costs soaring. It spread into other Asian countries and also showed up in Europe, in places like Germany and Italy.

The virus is highly contagious in hogs and can be 100% lethal for the animals. Governments have sought to control the disease by culling herds, restricting transport of pigs and improving hygiene on farms.

Scientists with the ARS have been working on a vaccine, which is based on deleting a gene, and the agency announced in April that it had passed a key safety test needed for regulatory approval.

The agency said that the safety studies were necessary to get the green light for use in Vietnam and eventually other countries.

Vietnam said this week it imported the attenuated strain from the U.S. in 2020 and carried out more research, which showed that it provides immunity for six months. Navetco National Veterinary JSC is producing the vaccine in the country, and the USDA confirmed in May its safety and efficacy, said deputy minister Tien. Vietnam is looking to export the vaccine, he said.

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