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