The Guardian, The I, Daily Mirror, Yorkshire Post, Farmers Weekly, Somerset County Gazette and Farming Today have all run coverage on our announcement yesterday that that world-leading bovine tuberculosis (bTB) TB cattle vaccination trials are set to get underway in England and Wales as a result of a major breakthrough by government scientists.
These trials enable work to accelerate towards planned deployment of a cattle vaccine by 2025, in the latest milestone to eradicate this highly damaging animal disease.
bTB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that England and Wales face today. More than 40,000 cattle are slaughtered each year due to infection from bTB. However, a cattle vaccine could become a powerful tool in the battle against the disease following the necessary testing and subsequent approvals to ensure its safety and efficacy.
The field trials will be conducted over the next four years on behalf of Defra, the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government, following 20 years of ground-breaking research into bovine TB vaccines and diagnostic tests.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said:
“Bovine TB is a slow-moving and insidious disease which can cause considerable trauma for farmers as they suffer the loss of highly prized animals and valued herds.
“This scientific breakthrough is a major step forwards in our battle to see the disease eradicated from this country. As wider preventative measures like cattle vaccines are introduced, we will accelerate other elements of our strategy and start to phase out badger culling in England, as no one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely.”
The UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said:
“The Animal Plant and Health Agency’s ground-breaking research has been pivotal in developing this potential vaccine. Whilst there is no single way to combat this damaging and complex disease, cattle vaccination is a potential new tool for our multi-pronged approach to tackle it and importantly prevent it, providing vital support to our farming communities.
“Bovine TB presents a global challenge and the UK has harnessed its world-leading science to develop potential solutions such as vaccination and new diagnostic tests that could also be valuable to other countries.”
Development of a deployable cattle BTB vaccine was a top priority outlined in the government’s response to an independent review of its 25 year bTB strategy, led by Professor Sir Charles Godfray. The response to the Godfray Review set out plans to phase out intensive culling in the next few years, and outlined the need for a combined approach which includes badger and cattle vaccination to eradicate the disease in England by 2038.