The first phase of a Philippine trial of an ASF vaccine developed in Thailand has shown encouraging results, the Philippine Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said.
The trial was meant to evaluate the safety of the vaccine developed at Chulalongkorn University and determine its ability to induce an immune response in vaccinated pigs.
BAI, in collaboration with Universal Robina Corporation (URC) and Chulalongkorn University’s Dr Dachrit Nilubol, conducted the trial at a URC farm in Bulacan province from February 10-May 6. Dr Nilubol is the scientist behind the vaccine.
Trial results showed that the vaccinated pigs did not demonstrate any clinical signs associated with ASF. The minimal mortality recorded was non-ASF related, and 66% of the sample animals have detectable antibodies to the ASF virus.
According to the BAI, the vaccine also underwent trial in Thailand. It can be stored in a wide range of temperatures with a shelf life of 2-6 months.
Phase 2 on the pipeline
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William said that the encouraging result from Phase 1 has prompted the BAI to propose a Phase 2 trial targeted to run from May to June 2022.
“This will involve the actual viral challenge of the vaccinated animals,” he said.
Dr Dante Palabrica, Operations Director of URC’s Robina Farms, thanked the DA and the BAI for their cooperation in testing the vaccine. He said an ASF vaccine is critical for the country’s food security and the pig industry’s recovery.
BAI Director Reildrin Morales estimated that direct losses from ASF have reached at least USD 2 billion.
Responding to a question by Asian Agribiz on the possible commercialization of the vaccine, Dr Morales said that would depend on the results of the Phase 2 trial. He added that it also hinges on negotiations between the vaccine developer and pharmaceutical companies for the vaccine’s production.
He also stressed the need for the producers to continue strengthening their vigilance and biosecurity measures against the virus, which remains a threat to the industry.