The Newcastle Journal

Dear Sir

Re: Mr Gordon Adam MEP, letter of 5 July 2002

Please may we respond to Mr Gordon Adam's letter of 5 July 2002.

Modern state of the art vaccines are now available, produced from highly purified antigens.  Used in conjunction with the appropriate tests for Foot and Mouth Disease it is now possible to determine whether animals have responded to vaccination - or to exposure to disease.

So advanced are these vaccines and tests that the OIE - the Office International Epizooties - the organisation which regulates which countries are free from FMD and therefore can export as FMD free - has now authorised that if these vaccines and tests are used to control an outbreak, then the time to return to Disease free status after vaccination is reduced from 12 months to 6 months.

This policy was adopted by the OIE on the 29 of May 2002.   Therefore not only European, but Global agreement, has been reached on this issue of global trade following vaccination.

Regarding the issue of whether vaccination should have been used to control the last outbreak.   If the UK Govt had had regard to both the Northumberland Report and the EU Strategy for Emergency Vaccination, adopted in March 1999, and made contingency provision for the use of vaccination at national, regional and local level then it would have been possible for vaccination to have been used to control the epidemic from the outset.

The fact that the Govt took 3 + days to impose animal movement restrictions - while making the use of vaccination more widespread - did not rule it out.
The NFMG, in work undertaken by Mrs V Lusmore, estimate that up to three weeks after the disease was confirmed the focii of infection were still detectable and ring vaccination could have been pursued.

Even if a more widespread programme of vaccination had been needed the loss of export markets for a year, circa £500million, is far lower than the costs which escalated with the cull and slaughter policies - now stated by the National Audit Office at £3billion to the taxpayer and £8billion to the national economy.  ***
Furthermore it is now known that the EU would have compensated for financial losses caused through vaccination - but this was never made clear to the NFU or farmers generally.  It would also have prevented the slaughter of nearly 10 million healthy animals.

Vaccination must be considered the primary means of control should FMD re-occur.

Yours sincerely
Janet Bayley

***(£20 billion costs to wider economy Institute of Directors estimate - still holds good )