Pig deaths after vaccination not because of vaccine quality: agriculture official

Veterinarians take samples from a pig that died after being injected with NAVET-ASFVAC in the south central province of Phú Yên late last month. - VNA/VNS

HANOI (Vietnam News/Asia News Network): About 750 pigs are reported to have died after being injected with NAVET-ASFVAC, the first home-grown African swine fever vaccine produced by Vietnam, though an agriculture official has refuted claims the deaths are related to the quality of the vaccine.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phùng Đức Tiến told the media that more than 21,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered.

“If the vaccine quality was poor, all the vaccinated pigs would die,” Tiến said. He said that the post-vaccination pig deaths reported in three provinces of Bình Định, Phú Yên and Quảng Ngãi were caused by problems during the vaccination process.

Some farmers bought the vaccine and injected all their pigs by themselves without an expert's consultation, Tiến said.

In June this year, Vietnam announced that it had successfully developed a vaccine to administer to pigs to fight African swine fever, with the aim of becoming the first country to commercially produce and export it.

Tiến said that the vaccine was a result of serious scientific research by the ministry with support from the US. The production and quality of the vaccine are ensured to fully meet regulations and requirements.

Acting Director of the Animal Health Department Nguyễn Văn Long said that from July to August 26, the National Veterinary Joint Stock Company (Navetco) supplied a total of 23,344 doses of vaccine to 20 provinces and cities, of which 17,750 doses were supplied without the supervision of veterinary agencies.

The pigs injected according to the guidelines of the ministry and Department of Animal Health have developed well and the mortality rate after injection is about 0.6 per cent - a normal level when compared with other veterinary vaccines.

The incidents occurring in three provinces of Bình Định, Phú Yên and Quảng Ngãi however resulted in 743 pig deaths.

Long said that Navetco and local veterinary companies did not comply with the requirements of the Department of Animal Health. Specifically, Navetco provided vaccines but did not report or supervise the vaccination process.

"On the side of the local veterinary departments, it should be provided directly to farmers or veterinarians to deploy injections, but the vaccines were provided to agents, who then freely sold vaccines to pig farmers,” Long said, adding that such trade was unlawful.

As a result, the farmers bought and injected all kinds of pigs.

So far, farmers in the three provinces reported 1,342 pig deaths relating to the vaccination, but authorities have found it difficult to verify this true number, Long said, noting that households sold pigs but still reported post-vaccination dead pigs.

Navetco Company is committed to supporting farmers with VNĐ2 million for a sow or boar and VNĐ1 million for a pig, Long said.

"We do not want to blame the farmers and the grassroots veterinary, but all three parties - the vaccine supplying company, the grassroots veterinary, and the farmers are involved in the wrong vaccine distribution process," Long said.

After 600,000 doses of the vaccine were administered, there would be a comprehensive assessment of the use of the vaccine, Long said, adding that the move was needed for the effective use of vaccines in the future.

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