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January 16 - 22 2005 ~ The UK's Chief Scientific Advisor appears unaware of the current official stance on vaccination against FMD

    This is the link to the FMD Q and A's on Defra's website. David King's alarming statement in the Independent that: "My worry is that if there were an epidemic tomorrow, the British public might be expecting vaccination to be used " suggests that he does not yet know the extent to which the UK position on testing and on other points about FMD vaccination has shifted since 2001.
      54. Defra says that the absence of an internationally validated test would not prevent the use of vaccination in the event of a future outbreak. "We would use a herd based NSP test on a statistical basis and, where positive results were found, we would use a higher discriminatory test (Probang)."
      46. Defra says that current vaccines are good enough to control the disease. (No vaccine used for humans is 100% effective, as Dr Ruth Watkins points out on this website.)
      47. Defra says there is no evidence that FMD can mutate in response to the vaccine.
      As for the vexed question of so-called "carriers" Defra's position now is that
      48. "Once vaccinated, animals are considered fully protected and should not develop disease. Expert scientific advice is that spread from vaccinated carrier animals is a rare event: the amount of virus excreted is many orders of magnitude less than that excreted by animals during the acute phase of disease or during sub-clinical infection. Excretion from carriers is intermittent and at a diminishing level over time, occasionally up to three years."
      49. On the risk of spread from infected animals to those already vaccinated, Defra says that there is a theoretical risk for 3-5 days following use of high potency vaccine.
        ( However, the likelihood of vaccinates coming into contact with infected animals is very unlikely indeed. Farm animals cannot mingle in the way humans do. This article about vaccination and transmission makes things very clear. It was contributed by a scientist now holding an eminent position at the FAO in connection with FMD control.)
      50. Defra says that stress should not normally inactivate the vaccine.
      51. Disease free status can be recovered six months after the last case or the last vaccination where stamping out and “protective” vaccination to live is used, provided that absence of infection in the remaining vaccinated population is clearly demonstrated..
    Read Q and A page in full at

January 16 - 22 2005 ~ Sir David King is still trying to justify " the scientific rationale for the ruthless culling of livestock" and saying that " Britain had no choice but to kill and burn or bury thousands (sic) of animals"

      "... Sir David provided the scientific rationale for the ruthless culling of livestock on affected farms and ones with common boundaries. It was, and still is, a deeply unpopular decision, especially when some commentators were calling for vaccination rather than slaughter. Even today there are those who say the Government should have used vaccines rather than culling, a strategy vehemently defended by Sir David who insists many people still do not understand why Britain had no choice but to kill and burn or bury thousands of animals. "The option to vaccinate but not to subsequently kill the animals was actually not with us," Sir David says. "The Dutch government used vaccination and we did not; as a result the Dutch government had to slaughter vaccinated animals subsequently before they could begin exporting again."
    This is both misleading and wrong.
    The Dutch government chose to slaughter its vaccinates - against the wishes of the farmers and of the population who protested in their thousands. On the 23 March they were granted suppressive vaccination (where slaughter would follow) in a 2 km area round confirmed outbreaks. But on 3 April they obtained permission for protective vaccination in addition. The farmers, many of them dairy farmers, were led to believe their animals would be allowed to live and thus agreed to the protective vaccination area being much wider than was truly necessary for control of the disease. After vaccination was completed, their Government changed its mind and insisted on slaughtering the animals in a bid to qualify for normal trading after three months. Dr Frits Pluimers CVO of the Netherlands made an impassioned speech at the Brussels conference of 2001, stating that he could not in the future ignore the will of the Dutch people - and that protective vaccination would certainly be used should they be unfortunate enough to have another outbreak; they would never again follow a policy that slaughtered vaccinated animals, proved by tests to be uninfected. ( See also this transcript of an interview in 2001 in which Prof King told the Today Programme " what I was happy to achieve in the FMD outbreak was showing that science in real time could provide a sound basis for policy advice" )
    The late Fred Brown called Britain's handling of the disease "a disgrace to humanity". Magnus Linklater spoke for many when he agreed.

24 January 2005 ~ Government's plans for tackling a future outbreak of foot and mouth disease have been thrown into disarray after the government's Chief Scientist suggested that vaccination was still not a practical option

    David King's comments "desperately disappointing" says Anthony Gibson.
    Jason Groves, London editor of the WMN writes today:
      Government's plans for tackling a future outbreak of foot and mouth disease have been thrown into disarray after the government's Chief Scientist suggested that vaccination was still not a practical option for controlling the disease. .... His comments will fuel fears that the Government has done little more than pay lip service to vaccination... appear to directly contradict the official policy of the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which suggests that it would give early consideration to using vaccination in any future outbreak, despite the lack of a validated test. Defra suggests that a "vaccinate to live" policy would be possible.....
      .... Mr Gibson said Sir David appeared to have "no understanding" of farming or the "heartbreak" suffered by farmers who were forced to watch the destruction of entire pedigree herds in their farmyards. He added: "To him it appears to be a dry statistical exercise, whereas to those involved it was flesh, blood, tears, sweat and heartbreak."
    Read in full and our comments about what Sir David King had to say in the Independent last week