FMD Vaccination Trigger. 

 

 Robert Uhlig's  article in the Daily Telegraph of yesterday (13/6/03) contains the news that the EU  "could impose emergency vaccination if a member state's infected livestock were not culled within 24 hours and dangerous contacts within 48 hours".

This belated or 'backstop' trigger, was in the original Proposed Draft Directive upon which DEFRA invited Stakeholders to comment at our meeting on and from 30th January this year onwards.

 

Resistance to this proposal was most fiercely pressed by the representative of SERAD, whose arguments were partially based around a fear that a trade competing Member State may disadvantage another by triggering an emergency vaccination policy, (and hypothesised around an outbreak in the Islands of Scotland where, for some reason, failure to meet these not arduous criteria appeared satisfactory) - these arguments, we were subsequently informed, had been put to our partners in Europe many of whom had  concurred and subsequently rejected this 'trigger' to vaccination in the interests of an (infinitely) 'flexible' response capability.

 

It was therefore a very considerable surprise to find this trigger still live and well and proceeding towards ratification.

 

Of course, this legislation is still at a Draft stage, and presumably will remain subject to revision until approved; however, the proposal that ,,,   "Any infected member nation that refused to implement vaccination after a vote in favour would become ineligible for compensation from Brussels" suggests to me that our fellow Member States (and their Treasurers) are in earnest about this; after all, Continental Europeans have had the recent experience of ridding themselves of hugely endemic FMD by use of efficacious, economical and ethically sound FMD vaccines, and their scientists have not fallen into the semantic error  that equates emergency vaccination with an 'admission of endemicity' (which it is not), but rather regard it, like slaughter, as a means to bring an outbreak to an end.

 

The survival (to date) of this 'trigger' despite committed lobbying against it, may be a factor intensifying DEFRA's desire to fully communicate the vaccination message, although their failure to mention such as recently as Monday  the 9th  suggests that they were lobbying for its removal to the last (and will  probably continue so to do).

 

Conclusion - still keep the champagne on ice, it could yet come unstuck  (and let's face it, a trigger that is only invoked if infected livestock are not culled within 24 hours and dangerous contacts within 48 hours is in itself only so much to celebrate; how many animals will have died before the EU Parliament bring themselves to overrule the dodgy data presented (or looking at that another way, before DEFRA admit that failure)?

 

 Without wishing to be overpessimistic, who will control the report to slaughter data? DEFRA, SERAD etc. Perhaps we should suggest now that all such should be automatically copied into the European central FMD Reference Library  - otherwise how would they know?

 

Shocking to have to propose such a check (and balance) against one's  own government, but no worse actually than a Parliamentary opposition. By the same token, the World Reference Library at Pirbright will act as a check against failings, falling standards or corruption at the forthcoming European central FMD Reference Library.

 

 Chris Stockdale  DEFRA Stakeholder