APRIL 19, 2008: The NFU says Defra is near to ordering another 8 milliondoses of bluetongue vaccine to ensure the whole of England is covered.
The Government has so far ordered 22.5 million doses of vaccine for the BTV8 strain of the virus, including 20 million doses for England, plus 2.5 million for Wales. However, NFU head of food and farming Kevin Pearce said this was not sufficient to cover all susceptible livestock in England.
“Discussions are going on with Ministers about ordering additional vaccine. We need another 8m doses to complete vaccination in England and I am hopeful we will see some positive results on that soon. I think we have a very good case,” he said.
Mr Pearce predicted that at least five million doses would be available by the end of May to begin vaccination in the east of England, a scenario that would exceed formal expectations.
“Although Intervet is saying publicly it expects to deliver 3m doses in May, I would be very disappointed if they don’t deliver at least 5m in May. Production of vaccine has gone extremely well and they are capable of doing that,” he told the NFU council on Tuesday
He said the delivery of five million doses would enable a quick start to the vaccination programme and put the industry in ‘very good shape’ in the battle against the virus, which is likely to re-emerge within the next few weeks.
Vaccination will be rolled out on a county-by-county basis with the eastern counties most affected last year – Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent, Essex and Sussex – likely to receive priority. The second phase is likely to target south coast counties, such as Dorset and Hampshire.
He said the major challenge facing organisations like the NFU, which is part of the Joint Action on Bluetongue campaign encouraging vaccination uptake, was to persuade farmers of the need for 100 per cent coverage of susceptible livestock.