China cracks down on illegal ASF vaccines

According to a report by Reuters, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in China has begun a crackdown on the production and use of illegal African swine fever (ASF) vaccines after anecdotal evidence of the widespread use of such untested products.

There is currently no cure or approved vaccine anywhere in the world, although China has reported to be expanding trials on a ‘promising candidate’. A vaccine could play a big part in rebuilding the country’s pig herd which was decimated by an ASF outbreak in 2018 and 2019.

Illegally-produced vaccines have circulated in the market for several months and authorities say these unapproved products could complicate the introduction of an officially-approved product.

Earlier this year, the state-backed Legal Daily reported that police in Chongqing had arrested seven people found to be producing a fake African swine fever vaccine. Additionally, Beijing has cautioned the use of illegal and fake vaccines and warned of strict punishment. The crackdown will see previously vague warnings are become more structured, targeting specific companies.

Provincial authorities will carry out inspections at veterinary laboratories, drug producers and pig farmers for any evidence they could have developed or used an illegal vaccine.

Authorities will investigate veterinary laboratories used for research or commercial purposes and check any unlabelled vaccines and disease materials or reagents along with the records of experiments. And clinical trials and pilot production of vaccines will be under closer supervision to ensure there is no illegal transfer of the pilot product.

Provincial authorities will also inspect veterinary product manufacturers and pig breeders, checking immunisation records on farms and running tests on pigs to search for different strains of the swine fever virus. Any strains with gene deletions could indicate a vaccine had been used and would be immediately investigated.

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