Identifying problems before they emerge while being ready to manage major animal disease outbreaks and crises is one of the expected outcomes of the Animal Health Strategy.
In this context it is considered that in many cases the best means of combating animal diseases once they occur can be in accordance with the principle that ‘vaccination is better than unnecessary culling’.
Therefore a task force of experts was created to assist the Commission in the development of a policy paper on EU vaccine/antigen banks for major animal
diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), classical swine fever (CSF), avian influenza (AI) and others. Such banks should be available in emergency situations or major crises.
The task force met 4 times during the first semester of 2009 and fine tuned an expert opinion by written correspondence afterwards.
The summary of the paper produced by this group of experts was presented to the
delegates of Member States during the SCoFCAH meeting on 3 May 2010 (Section Animal Health and Animal Welfare, see point 8 here).
1. Vaccination is a fundamental tool in a strategy to control and eradicate major emerging diseases.
2. Emergency vaccination has to be considered as one tool in a whole range of measures as a part of a complex strategy to control and eradicate major animal diseases.
3. Emergency vaccination for most of the relevant infectious diseases should in general be seen in a new light, directly linked to the availability of effective diagnostic tools substantiating that vaccinated animals,
or meat and other products obtained from vaccinated animals, are free from pathogens and can be traded safely.
4. Emergency vaccination has to be understood as vaccinate-to-live, meaning that vaccinated animals are kept to the end of a normal production cycle, and that their meat and other products can be marketed.
5. Diagnostic banks for particular infectious diseases are necessary to supplement vaccine banks to enable a holistic strategy of disease control and eradication.
6. The establishment and maintenance of vaccine and diagnostic banks must be part of a strategic plan prepared during 'peace time' ready for an emergency.
7. The issue of vaccine and diagnostic banks can only be treated in the context of a control and eradication strategy specific to each major animal disease (e.g. FMD, CSF, AI) and various outbreak scenarios.
8. For most of the relevant infectious diseases, existing legislation regarding emerging vaccination should be amended in such a way that vaccination becomes a realistic option in the event of a crisis.
9. Trade issues regarding vaccinated animals or fresh meat and meat products obtained from vaccinated animals should be resolved.
10. Relevant legislation regarding veterinary medicinal products is not well suited to approve the use of vaccines in emergency situations.
11. The current review of legislation dealing with veterinary medicinal products is an ideal opportunity to introduce a mechanism for the approval of vaccines for emergency use at European level.
12. Proposals to be considered could include alternatives to vaccine banks, such as vaccine master seed stocks and ‘mock up’ authorisations for particular vaccines.
13. Vaccination and testing should replace unnecessary culling.