African swine fever vaccine moves a step closer to reality

(Photo Supplied)

Scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS), have announced that a vaccine candidate for African Swine Fever (ASF) has passed an important safety test required for regulatory approval, moving the vaccine one step closer to commercial availability.

African swine fever is a highly contagious, viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, whose mortality rate can reach 100 per cent.

The highly contagious ASF virus spread from Africa to the Republic of Georgia in 2007, and has since been detected in central Europe and Asia, and the Dominican Republic in 2021.

The virus does not infect humans, and it has not yet been detected in North America.

This latest test of the USDA vaccine candidate showed that hogs do not produce a virulent form of the virus, post-vaccine. This “reversion to virulence” test is required to ensure that the vaccine’s weakened form of the ASF virus does not revert to its original state — a key part of assessing the vaccine’s overall safety.

The vaccine candidate was recently selected by NAVETCO for commercial development in Vietnam. NAVETCO has partnered with ARS on ASF vaccine research and development since 2020. Further development will continue once the vaccine candidate receives regulatory approval from Vietnam.

The ARS says that these safety studies are necessary to gain approval for use in Vietnam and eventually in other countries around the world. Future commercial use, however, will depend on approval from the department of animal health within each requesting country.

Listen to more on the prevention plan for African swine fever here