(From Alan Beats Newsletter September 19th 20001 DEFRAs arguments against vaccination)
We know that some of you do not visit the DEFRA website, so we have copied
below the latest information that is posted there about vaccination, just so
that you can see what we are up against! We have highlighted some of the
most glaring errors - or are they deliberate lies? - with our comments in
brackets like this #( ):
Vaccination against Foot and Mouth Disease - Key Issues:
The Government's primary objective is to eradicate Foot and Mouth Disease.
Vaccination would be used if it were clear that it was the most appropriate
measure to shorten the outbreak.
Where vaccination is used we would want to ensure that disease would not
continue to circulate.
A mass, nation-wide vaccination programme designed to end Foot and Mouth
Disease and allow remaining animals to live has never been proposed. It
would be an enormous logistical exercise, but leaving logistics aside the
underlying science does not support this approach. First vaccination does
not remove the virus.
#(Oh yes it does! The virus dies out completely once there are no
susceptible livestock to keep it going)
Second, nation-wide mass vaccination would make it impossible to tell how
far the virus is present in the country's livestock.
#(See above comment - no new cases, no virus, no need to look for it
Some people want to use vaccination to protect rare flocks or herds. Others
suggest limited vaccination as an experiment. Whatever the reasons for doing
it, if isolated pockets of animals are vaccinated and allowed to live, we
have to deal with the problems this creates: vaccinated animals could
harbour and possibly transmit virus to unvaccinated animals in surrounding
#(All scientific evidence shows that this cannot happen - vaccinates do not
Vaccination would also trigger controls and restrictions for neighbours who
might not want their animals vaccinated.
# (Why? Vaccinates pose no risk so there is no need for controls)
The arguments for vaccinating relatively small numbers of animals to live
therefore need to be overwhelming before they are deployed.
For more information, read about the science behind vaccination.
There are a number of different ways in which vaccination could be used. For
example, the vaccination programme might be 'suppressive', which generally
means that the vaccinated animals would be subsequently killed, or
'protective', which means that the vaccinated animals would be allowed to
live out their economic lives.
There are a number of terms used to describe vaccination strategies. The
most common expressions are 'ring vaccination', and 'firebreaks' or 'buffer'
Ring vaccination is used to describe vaccination within a boundary drawn to
circle an area of known infection.
The size of the area covered would depend on geography, available human and
vaccine resources, and assessment of the disease risk.
The Dutch carried out a programme of suppressive ring vaccination.
#(No they didn't. It was originally protective until, one week after the
elimination of disease, the Dutch government changed its mind to betray the
trust of the vets and farmers)
A 'firebreak' or 'buffer' vaccination zone could be established between an
area with disease and a disease-free area. The aim would be to create an
area large enough to protect against spread of the virus around or through
the 'firebreak' zone.
A high proportion of the livestock within the vaccination area would need to
be vaccinated to develop enough immunity to prevent the disease taking hold
and spreading to clean areas.
Tight controls would be needed on the borders of the vaccination area to
reduce the risk of disease breaching the vaccination zones through movement
of vehicles, animals and people.
The movement of vaccinated animals would be restricted to within the
vaccination area, except when being moved directly to slaughter.
Vaccinated animals would have to be distinguishable from non-vaccinated
Meat from vaccinated animals would have to be deboned and matured (to pH <
6) to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, should it be present. These
deboning and maturation conditions also apply to imports from countries that
control Foot and Mouth Disease through vaccination. They can be met for beef
but are difficult to achieve for lamb and pork.
The length of time these restrictions would remain in place depends on
whether the vaccinated animals were slaughtered or allowed to live out their
If the vaccinated animals are allowed to live restrictions must apply for
twelve months following the last case of Foot and Mouth Disease or
completion of the vaccination programme, whichever is later. With a strategy
involving the slaughter of vaccinated animals, the restrictions would apply
for three months.
#(All the above complications are political in origin and can readily be
solved by political means)
Vaccination is one strategy that is being considered in the fight against
Foot and Mouth Disease, but could not replace other measures such as
biosecurity (to prevent the spread of disease) or slaughter (if animals do
become infected). (See 'The science behind vaccination')
# (There is no need for "biosecurity" following vaccination, normal life can
be quickly resumed)
Vaccination would only be used if it helped to eradicate the disease more
effectively than slaughter and increased biosecurity alone. The use of
vaccination is continually being assessed during this current outbreak.
#(Everywhere else in the world, vaccination has been, and is, used more
effectively than slaughter alone)
Considerations that would affect the decision include:
How many farms and animals would be included in the vaccination programme?
Are there enough resources available, including vaccine?
Will there be the necessary level of support from farmers and others who
would be affected by a vaccination programme?
What is known about the disease situation in the area, and can we know where
to place the vaccination area boundary?
How would it complicate the programme of blood tests needed to prove a lack
of foot and mouth antibodies?
Which species would be vaccinated and are there any species-specific issues
such as rate of reproduction, whether the post-vaccination treatments can be
met and the way in which they are kept (e.g. in or outside, free range,
hefted or intensive)?
If a specific vaccination strategy is considered to have disease eradication
benefits, what are the wider advantages and disadvantages, for example
implications for tourism and trade, costs of implementation and border
#(Briefly, there is plenty of vaccine available, it works, everything else
Vaccination against Foot and Mouth: Facts
There has been considerable media interest on the subject of vaccination
recently - below are some facts spelling out the Government's position.
Has the Governments policy changed and are there are plans to vaccinate in
six weeks time?
Fact : Vaccination is still an option and would be employed where
appropriate, on the basis of advice from the Chief Scientific Advisor and
Chief Veterinary Officer. This has always been the Government position. They
have not identified any new circumstances in which vaccination is
Did the Dutch approach to eradicating their disease prove that vaccination
is a more effective strategy than culling?
Fact : All vaccinated animals in the Netherlands were killed, so this
approach would not save animals' lives. Vaccination was used so that
slaughter and disposal could be carried out slower, but it did mean that
more animals were killed. In the Netherlands they killed approximately
10,000 animals for every infected premises, compared with about 2,000 per
infected premises in the UK.
#(Hang on a minute - "more animals were killed"? 260,000 in Holland
compared to over 5 million officially in the UK?)
In other respects there is no comparison with the Dutch situation and that
in the UK. They had the advantage of prior notice of a potential problem and
knew when, where and how the disease was introduced.
Have all the objections to vaccination been overcome, ie. are the scientific
advisors in favour, are concerns about a market for vaccinated meat ill
founded because we already import it and are most farmers now in favour?
Fact : The Chief Scientific Advisor and Chief Veterinary Officer will
continue to keep the use of vaccination as a means to help eradicate the
disease under review. They are not currently advising its use.
The Government and Food Standards Agency have issued advice to dispel any
concerns about the public health implications. However, this was only one
factor concerning the demand for vaccinated animals. There are also concerns
about a two tier market developing if the meat from vaccinated animals was
distinguished from that from non-vaccinated animals. In addition, there are
special meat treatments to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, as
vaccination does not necessarily prevent infection. The meat has to be kept
separate from other meat from non-vaccinated animals, and must be deboned
and matured (to pH<6). For lamb and pork the de-boning and maturation
requirements cannot be achieved easily. Meat imports from countries that
control Foot and Mouth Disease by vaccination (e.g. Argentina) are also
treated in this way.
Did the NFU veto the Governments plans to vaccinate cattle earlier in the
Fact : In April, the Chief Scientific Advisor and Chief Veterinary Officer
recommended a limited vaccination programme in Cumbria, provided it had the
support of the local farming community and others that would be affected. It
became clear that this support was not forthcoming, which would make the
programme harder to achieve on the ground, and as the number of daily cases
was diminishing the case for vaccination became less compelling.
#(In other words - yes)
Is the Government embarrassed by statements that vaccination should be used
in future outbreaks and by initiatives taken by other European Member States
to arrange a conference on vaccination later this year?
Fact : On the contrary, the Government recognised very early on in this
outbreak that a debate about the future role vaccination might play was
needed and it was the then Agriculture Minister, who with the Dutch
Agriculture Minister, took the initiative to set up this conference.
#(Words fail us here . . . )
Vaccination against Foot and Mouth Disease: The Science
The following sets out the current state of knowledge on the science of Foot
and Mouth Disease vaccination.
Vaccination can be used to help contain Foot and Mouth Disease, but on its
own would not eradicate the disease.
#(Funnily enough, it does eradicate the disease everywhere else in the
High strength vaccines should provide immunity from about 4 days after
vaccination. A standard strength vaccine provides immunity from about day
10, and a booster would be needed about 28 days later. Immunity declines
after about six months.
Vaccination against Foot and Mouth Disease does not necessarily protect
against infection, so vaccinated animals can still spread disease.
#(Absolute rubbish, see above)
However, vaccination does reduce the likelihood that an animal will become
infected and reduces the amount of virus excreted if infection does occur.
Vaccinated animals are therefore less likely to spread disease than
Vaccination will not always work. If an animal is vaccinated when it is
already infected, vaccination will not prevent disease. Likewise,
vaccination may not work if the animal is exposed to infection shortly after
vaccination and before immunity has developed.
If young animals are vaccinated while they have maternal antibodies in their
bloodstream, the vaccine may not be effective. While the maternal antibodies
are wearing off, the vaccine may still not work, but the young animal is
vulnerable to the disease if exposed to infection.
#(If all the adults are vaccinated, how can the young be exposed to
infection - there won't be any)
Ruminant animals that have been exposed to Foot and Mouth Disease virus can
become persistently infected with the virus. The 'carrier state' is where
this infection continues for more than 28 days. Vaccination may reduce the
likelihood of an animal becoming a carrier, but will not prevent it.
Although there is little evidence that carriers have ever spread disease,
their presence may be a risk. This is an issue that affects international
attitudes towards trading with countries that use vaccination.
#(There is no evidence; the risk is hypothetical, it comes down to politics
Conventional serology is not able to distinguish between infected animals
(including carriers) and vaccinated animals. There are tests available which
could distinguish the two, but these are not yet internationally recognised
and are not currently practical for large-scale use. As serology is
important in lifting domestic and international restrictions and proving
absence of disease, vaccination will seriously complicate the issue.
#(Do away with the political notion of FMD-free status and serology becomes
The Food Standards Agency is satisfied that the use of Foot and Mouth
Disease vaccines would not have any implications for food safety, but there
may be practical problems in carrying out the required post-vaccination
treatments of meat. This may have knock-on implications for the potential
demand for vaccinated animals.
| |)DEFRA 2001 | Published 14 September 2001
Our final comment: It is hard to escape the conclusion that DEFRA are
deliberately misrepresenting the facts in a vain attempt to justify their
own failed policy. Anyone who attended the Bristol Forum could pick this
text to pieces. The established, peer-reviewed science and practical
results in the field elsewhere in the world have been almost completely
ignored here, while the same old prejudices from the 1960's are trotted out
yet again. The UK authorities seem to be stuck in a time warp of their own
making and have fallen far behind the so-called "third world" countries that
they regard as inferior!
But we will keep trying to change that.
from Alan & Rosie