On 16 January 2008, the Commission organised a Conference on a vaccination strategy against bluetongue that was attended by more than 400 participants, including scientists, stakeholders, Member State authorities and industry representatives. The Conference was chaired by the Vice-President of the OIE Code Commission, Dr. W.A. Valder.
The Conference was opened by the Commissioner for Health, Mr. Markos Kyprianou, who called on the participants to come up with an outline of an EU strategy for vaccination against bluetongue, based on the support and contribution of the experts. He went on to say that the implementation of this vaccination strategy – supported by adequate resources from the Community and the Member States – would make a major contribution towards controlling bluetongue.
He also announced that Community funds will be made available to reimburse Member States' expenditure in relation to emergency vaccination campaigns in 2008. With estimates of the number of vaccine doses required ranging from 150 to 200 million, this clearly represents an important financial commitment and is a signal of the Commission's attachment to the principle of prevention.
A summary of his speech can be found here.
The Director for Animal Health and Welfare in DG Health and Consumer Protection, Dr. B. Van Goethem, concluded at the end of the Conference that vaccination is clearly the principal, and possibly the only, effective veterinary measure in response to bluetongue, accompanied by ancillary measures such as movement restrictions and surveillance.
He also stressed the fact that the discussions during the day showed that the use of the extensive and highly valuable experience gained by the southern Member States when controlling bluetongue will be essential when preparing a harmonised European strategy.
Furthermore, a wide consensus was reached on the need for an "emergency mass vaccination strategy" for 2008 using all available vaccines. This strategy would reduce clinical disease and losses in cattle and sheep, thereby containing the spread of the disease, protecting Member States not affected by the disease, and facilitating the safe trade in live animals.
The complete conclusions of the Conference can be found here
The presentations of the different speakers during the day can be found below.