USDA has awarded Boehringer Ingelheim a contract to help supply a vaccine bank that will protect U.S. livestock from foot-and-mouth disease.
The contract calls for Boehringer Ingelheim to create and maintain a strategic reserve of frozen vaccine antigen concentrate that the company could quickly formulate into a vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the event of an outbreak in the U.S.
FMD is a highly contagious viral disease that can affect cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and other animals with divided hooves. It does not affect people. The U.S. eradicated FMD in 1929, but an outbreak could devastate the livestock industry.
The National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank, commonly known as the U.S. vaccine bank, will let the U.S. stockpile veterinary vaccines and other materials to use in the event of an outbreak of a high-impact foreign animal disease. APHIS will invest $27.1 million in the foot-and-mouth disease vaccine. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is responsible for overseeing the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank.
“While we are confident we can keep foot-and-mouth disease out of the country, as we have since 1929, having access to vaccine is an important insurance policy,” said Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach. “Vaccines could be an important tool in the event of an incursion of the disease in the U.S, but their use will depend on the circumstances of the incursion and require careful coordination with the affected animal industries.”
Vaccination helps control the spread of infection by reducing the amount of virus shed by animals and by controlling clinical signs of illness. While an outbreak would temporarily disrupt international markets, vaccination would allow animals to move through domestic production channels.
"As a global leader in the storage and management of FMD vaccine banks, with FMD expertise dating back more than 70 years, Boehringer Ingelheim constantly monitors emerging disease threats," said Steve Boren, vice president of the U.S. livestock business at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health.
"Infectious animal diseases can disrupt our food supply, and governments make significant investments to help prevent and prepare for such events," said Everett Hoekstra, president of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc.
Veterinarians, researchers and livestock leaders have long worried about the possibility of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United States. Congress set aside money in the 2018 Farm Bill for the vaccine bank and other measures to guard against foreign animal disease outbreaks.
The NAVVCB is one component of a three-part program established by the 2018 Farm Bill to comprehensively support animal disease prevention and management. The new U.S.-only vaccine bank—a concept APHIS officials have long discussed with stakeholders and industry—makes a much larger number of vaccine doses available than currently available through the North American Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank. APHIS will continue to participate in the North American Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank, and this new program adds to the nation’s level of protection. In the event of an outbreak, animal health officials would decide when, where and how to use the available vaccine, based on the circumstances of the outbreak.