News out of Vietnam this week brings word of the first ever commercial sale of vaccine for African Swine Fever (ASF). Two new vaccines have been approved for use against this dreadful pathogen that was responsible for the deaths of as much as 25% of the global pig population during the most recent outbreak in 2018/19.
Although ASF has been known since the early 1900’s, these appear to be the first ever commercial vaccines made available to producers. There are at least 24 genotypes of ASF virus based on sequencing in Africa and there is limited cross-protection between different strains of the virus. Introduction of an effective broad-spectrum vaccine would be an absolute game-changer for global swine production organizations. Current strategy to contain an ASF outbreak is to either quarantine the pig population (if possible) or slaughter them.
The world will be watching for evidence of real-world efficacy on the part of these vaccines. This is an example of what our industry contributes to the good of mankind through animals that we raise for food; and it serves to remind us that there can still be new solutions to old, intractable problems. ASF reminded us that old problems, until solved, always have the potential to become new and potent challenges.