Letter published in the Farmers Guardian 12/09/2014
Defra launches new edge area badger vaccination scheme (Alistair Driver 05 Sept2014). Since the reliable evidence is that BCG gives no protection whatever to badgers against bTB, what vaccine do they propose using?
The CVO Nigel Gibbons totally destroys his credibility by stating "We know vaccination cannot cure badgers already with TB, but used in the correct areas it can play a part in creating a barrier to the disease spread".
In any case even if BCG was efficient, the edge areas cannot be the correct areas to vaccinate the badgers since many will already be infected. It is only common sense that these infected badgers must have been present for several years for them to have infected the cattle.
The efficacy of the BCG vaccine was demonstrated in a trial involving 23 badgers from Suffolk. Basically, 5 were the controls, 8 were given a single dose of BCG the others received 10 doses into their muscle. After 12 weeks all were given bTB into their lungs. 27 weeks from the start all the badgers were excreting bTB, and all had multiple lesions (abscesses) in multiple organs. Even were there were no lesions bTB was cultured from other organs. There was no statistical difference between the three groups. In spite of these results BCG vaccination is being peddled as the panacea. [One of the authors M. Chambers is now head of TB in AHVLA at Defra HQ Page Street London].
Both he and the Welsh CVO are playing politics with a grade 3 potentially fatal zoonotic pathogen. As puppets of their Political masters they have sacrificed their independence as Veterinary Surgeons to peddle flawed, fraudulent vaccination schemes.
Until there is an efficient targeted cull of the bTB infected badgers there will never be any improvement in the cattle situation never mind the badger populations.
D.J.B.Denny BVetMed MRCVS