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November 1 2007



Secretary of State for the Environment, Hilary Benn, today announced that Defra is to issue a tender for a Bluetongue vaccine bank.

Defra will tender for between 10 and 20 million doses, subject to an assessment of the anticipated demand. Discussions on this are currently underway with the industry.

    No suitable vaccine is currently available for the strain of Bluetongue circulating in England (serotype 8). However several companies have vaccines in development and these are expected to be available from next summer.

    In keeping with the principles set out in the Bluetongue Control Strategy, which was developed in partnership with the farming industry, livestock keepers will be offered the opportunity to purchase vaccine from the bank.

Hilary Benn said:

Whilst we are at the early stages of this outbreak, it is sensible for us to plan ahead and tender for a vaccine bank given the potential benefits vaccination could provide in managing this disease should it re-appear next year.

We hope this tendering process will reassure the farming industry that we are committed to having a vaccine supply ready as soon as vaccine becomes available. We will have a vaccine bank that farmers will be able to purchase from and I am sure the benefits of vaccination will make real economic sense to many farmers.”

    Further discussions are underway with scientific experts on Bluetongue, representatives of the farming industry and others on how a vaccination programme could work. Discussions are also continuing on possible approaches to vaccination with the European Commission and other Member States affected by Bluetongue.

    Notes to editors:

  1. As at 16:30pm on 31 October 2007 there were 60 confirmed premises affected by Bluetongue.  The latest figures on the number of Bluetongue cases will be updated on a daily basis (Monday to Friday) on the ‘latest situation’ page of the Defra website: 

  2. Further information on the latest Bluetongue situation at: 

  3. Further information is available to farmers via the Defra helpline (0845 9 335577) and website:

  4. Farmers without access to the internet can also call the Animal Health 24 hour recorded information line (0844 884 4600) for up-to-date news on the latest developments.

Press enquiries 020 7238 6007 / 6027; Public enquiries 08459 335577;

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