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Warmwell transcript ~ Paul van Aarle of Intervet talks to Farming Today about the need for firm commitment of orders for BTV-8 vaccine

BBC Farming Today  Oct 26 2007


".....Vaccine manufacturers are warning that unless governments put in firm orders for doses of the bluetongue vaccine now, they won't be able to make it in time to fight the disease in the Spring.

At the moment, countries on the continent which have suffered the disease have discussed a need for up to ten million doses of the vaccine for strain 8 which is being developed at the moment.

But no specific orders have been made.

There are two major vaccine companies making strain 8 vaccine: Merial in France and Intervet based in Holland.

Intervet spokesman Paul van Aarle told me a vaccine isn't quite ready yet.

 At this moment there is no inactivated vaccine for strain 8, the strain that broke out in Northern Europe last year in the Summer time and one year is really too short to develop a vaccine

Now what sort of figures have people been talking about for the number of doses that might be needed to vaccinate sheep and cattle against this disease?

There are no concrete figures at this moment. There is still the dilemma - though I think it's changing rapidly - but the official dilemma is still, will there be a blanket vaccination programme where you or the national authorities prescribe a compulsory vaccination of all sheep and cattle - or will this be a decision of the farming sector to vaccinate or not to vaccinate

If it ends up as being a compulsory vaccination, that would go into the millions, wouldn't it or even possibly ten million doses because each animal would actually have to be vaccinated

That's correct. It will be in the range of many tens of millions

And how difficult is it then to produce that amount of vaccine?

It's not a matter of difficulty. We have a good production capacity and can handle certain quantities. The main issue there is when we get the commitment from the government. Our production lead times - that means the time between an order and delivering the vaccine is between six and eight months which is mainly caused by the test procedures and compliance which is European regulations

You are a commercial company though. Does there have to be a positive commitment to a certain number of doses before you can commercially say, yes we will go ahead with this?

Oh we will go ahead. The main question is about quantities and if we talk about a voluntary vaccination programme as opposed to a compulsory vaccination programme we are talking about quantities in the range of perhaps hundreds of thousands, to maybe over a hundred million. And in that range we need to know somewhere where we are. So we need some commitments for quantities in order to make the vaccine available in Spring time 2008.

You need those commitments pretty soon don't you?

We need them right now.


Paul van Aarle of vaccine manufacturer Intervet. The other major vaccine manufacturer is Merial. Their plant in Surrey is currently not operating, following the foot and mouth escape. In a statement they said that normally the antigens in the Bluetongue vaccines are produced at Pirbright and are then formulated into vaccines in France. They say they have a vaccine against BTV-8 in development which they hope will be available for Summer 2008."


























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