"Initial trials of a vaccine against African swine fever have been successful. The drug has been jointly developed by the Russian Research Institute of Veterinary Virology, at Pokrov city in the Vladimir region, and public research by the University of Illinois (USA). We plan to finish the tests and start to use this vaccine in 2016," said Denis Kolbasov, director of the Institute.
Outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) have already been registered this year in the Lugansk Oblast region of Ukraine and are likely to spread to Belarus. Veterinary experts say the disease is almost impossible to contain, and is steadily moving towards the borders of the EU.
In Russia, direct losses to the pig industry from the spread of ASF have reached $1bn, with several billions of dollars in indirect losses. According to experts from Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, if the outbreak reaches the EU, then this figure will multiply several times over, as European countries will have to stop any pork exports. However, if a vaccine is developed, the disease could be stopped.
"The results following the first stage of the tests are successful and encouraging. But it is still too early to say the vaccine is ready. There is a lot of research and testing on animals that still need to be carried out. However, the results obtained after the second stage of testing, when we carried out a control on animals with the ASF virus, indicated that we are moving in the right direction," said Kolbasov.
According to Kolbasov, the next stage will start shortly. "At this stage, we need to conclude the main task – to ensure that the surviving animals among those infected are unable to infect other pigs. In future, if the tests continue to be so successful and the results of the research are equally encouraging, we will be ready to use the vaccine on animals in three years," he added.