Vietnam succeeds in producing world’s first vaccine against African Swine Fever
In February 2019, two ASF hotbeds were found in Vietnam. ASF had existed for the last century, threatening the world as the disease spread through many different channels, while there was no vaccine or medicine to treat it. All infected pigs died.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong, when he was in office, said that no other epidemic had caused such a big impact as ASF.
Veterinary quarantine posts were set up everywhere. Barns and alleys in the countryside turned white because of lime powder. The Prime Minister asked that the battle be like “fighting the enemy".
Seven months after the first hotbed was found, by September 2019, the ASF epidemic had spread to all provinces and major cities. In April and May 2019, when the epidemic reached a peak, so many pigs had died that some localities complained that no land was left to bury the dead pigs.
At that time, provincial leaders were worried as the costs needed to cull the pigs were too expensive for local budgets.
A report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development found that about 6 million pigs had been culled as of May 2020 because of ASF, which caused a loss of VND12 trillion, while prevention and control of the epidemic cost VND13.3 trillion.
However, the farmers whose pigs did not get infected with ASF also suffered. Because of ASF, many people did not eat pork, which caused low sales. As a result, pork prices dropped dramatically to VND25,000-28,000 per kilogram.
The epidemic was controlled by the end of 2019, but the consequences were serious. Because of pork shortages, pork prices rose dramatically.
Facing unprecedented prices, in late November 2019, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) convened an urgent meeting with localities and leading livestock companies to discuss stabilizing pork prices and increasing supply as the Tet holiday neared.
The shortage pushed live pork prices from VND42,000 per kilogram to VND90,000 in August 2019 – February 2020. In May 2020, the price hit VND100,000 per kilogram.
Vietnamese people consume 3.8 million tons of pig yearly, which accounts for 70 percent of the food basket. This explains why the pork price escalation seriously affected tens of millions of families.
In late 2020, the pork price fell and a new price was established. The pork price has been at high levels since then.
Three years have elapsed since the first ASF hotbed was discovered, but farmers still have bad memories.
However, the ASF disaster will not happen again as Vietnam has announced that it has successfully manufactured an ASF vaccine with the commercial name NAVET-ASFVAC.
“This is our pride. Vietnam is the first country in the world to successfully produce an ASF vaccine,” Tien said.
There have been more than 4,000 research works related to ASF virus and vaccine development, but there has not been commercial vaccine.
According to Nguyen Van Long, acting director of the Department of Animal Health, when the first hotbed appeared in Vietnam, the then Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong affirmed that Vietnam needs to produce vaccine for all it is worth, stressing that this is the key method avoid the historical disaster.
In February 2020, the research of vaccine began with the cooperation of American experts. NAVET-ASFVAC vaccine has been proved as meeting requirements for commercial circulation in the market. The immunity lasts 6 months.
Countries in the world have lost hundreds of billions of USD because of ASF and the figure was VND30 trillion for Vietnam.
Pig farming in Vietnam is the $10 billion industry and it is the livelihood of millions of farmers. Therefore, the successful production of ASF vaccine has special significance.