Stressing that there has been no decision made to authorize the use of avian influenza vaccines in America’s poultry, the USDA/APHIS announced late yesterday afternoon that they had selected two companies to produce and stockpile an unspecified quantity of HPAI H5 vaccines in case they are needed.
The USDA warns `Any decision to use vaccination in a future HPAI outbreak would require careful consideration of the efficacy of the vaccine, any impacts of using HPAI vaccine in the field, and the potential trade impacts.’
Throughout the United States, and indeed, most of the world, the preferred method of controlling H5 and H7 avian flu outbreaks in poultry has always been immediate quarantine and the culling of infected or exposed birds.
While expensive, and difficult, this approach has been used successfully in scores of countries for decades. Faced with staggering losses, however, some poultry stakeholders are looking towards vaccines as a possible alternative.
As we discussed earlier in MPR: Poultry AI Vaccines Are Not A `Cure-all’ , PLoS Bio: Imperfect Poultry Vaccines, Unintended Results & The HPAI Poultry Vaccine Dilemma, poultry AI vaccines have not proved to be a panacea for avian flu, and countries that have gone the vaccine route (notably China, Egypt, Vietnam, and Indonesia) continue to battle the virus.
However, if you want the option to use them on the table (even briefly) – you have to have them stockpiled and ready to go ahead of time. Hence the contract to produce, store, and deliver AI vaccines outlined below.
Published: Oct 13, 2015
Action Signals Preparation for Future Outbreak, Not a Decision to Vaccinate
October 13, 2015 – The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today awarded contracts to two companies to manufacture doses of avian influenza vaccine. This action is being taken to develop the Agency’s National Veterinary Stockpile., and does not signal a decision to vaccinate for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).
While APHIS has not approved the use of vaccine to respond to HPAI, the Agency is preparing to ensure that vaccine is available should the decision be made to use it during a future outbreak. Any decision to use vaccination in a future HPAI outbreak would require careful consideration of the efficacy of the vaccine, any impacts of using HPAI vaccine in the field, and the potential trade impacts.
Earlier in the year, APHIS issued a request for proposals (RFP) for vaccine manufacturers with the interest and capability to supply a variety of Eurasian (EA) H5 vaccines in sufficient numbers to establish the emergency stockpile. As part of the award, companies must:
- Manufacture the number of vaccine doses outlined in their contract, and store those doses up to 5 years
- Deliver the finished vaccine anywhere in the country within 10 days of a request for doses from the National Veterinary Stockpile
- Test the vaccine regularly to ensure continued potency
- Provide information and testing results with APHIS upon request
The HPAI vaccines covered by this award carry either conditional or full licenses from APHIS’ Center for Veterinary Biologics, and were carefully evaluated on a number of factors, including their efficacy against EA H5 viruses. The companies included in this award were:
Although no decision has been made to use vaccine in the event of a future HPAI outbreak, APHIS will continue to issue RFPs for vaccine manufacturers on a quarterly basis through September 2016, to allow additional products to be developed and considered for the stockpile should an HPAI outbreak occur. Information about future RFPs and awards will be available on the APHIS website.