ASF vaccine enters third phase of trials — DA

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) on Wednesday said a vaccine for African Swine Fever (ASF) is in the third stage of trials, and could be approved within the year.

“We are in the third phase, the last trial. And hopefully, it will be over soon because that’s what the industry has asked for,” Agriculture Undersecretary Deogracias Victor B. Savellano told reporters on the sidelines of the Livestock and Aquaculture Philippines 2024.

As of April 26, 11 provinces had active cases of ASF, according to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

These are Batangas, Quezon, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Camarines Sur, Albay, Bohol, Misamis Occidental, Sarangani, Agusan del Norte, and Surigao del Sur.

“What needs to be done now is for the (Food and Drug Administration) and the BAI to work together, so that we can speed up the response to ASF,” he added.

The DA has said that the BAI, FDA, and the Department of Health are set to sign a memorandum of agreement regarding the fast-tracking of the approval process for animal vaccines.

During the first quarter, hog production declined 4.3% to 419.37 thousand MT, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. This was a reversal of the 5.1% growth a year earlier.

Separately, Alfred Ng, vice-chairman of the National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc said hog industry output is expected to grow 10% to 15% even without the ASF vaccine.

“The repopulation effort (in the hog industry) is ongoing,” Mr. Ng said on the sidelines of the event.

However, he added that the hog industry is not seeing further ASF cases at the moment due to biosecurity measures implemented by raisers.

“There aren’t many reported cases of ASF. So, we are not too alarmed by that. Although the weights (of hogs) are getting smaller,” he added.

He said imports of pork meat remain a challenge for hog raisers.

“Imports are very high… it’s a challenge for local production,” Mr. Ng said.

Pork imports rose 11.92% to 128.51 million kilograms during the first quarter, according to the BAI. — Adrian H. Halili