World-leading bovine tuberculosis (bTB) TB cattle vaccination trials are set to get underway in England and Wales as a result of a major breakthrough by government scientists.
These trials enable work to accelerate towards planned deployment of a cattle vaccine by 2025, in the latest milestone to eradicate this highly damaging animal disease.
bTB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that England and Wales face today. More than 40,000 cattle are slaughtered each year due to infection from bTB. However, a cattle vaccine could become a powerful tool in the battle against the disease following the necessary testing and subsequent approvals to ensure its safety and efficacy.
It is one of several key elements of the long-term bTB strategy to eradicate the disease in England by 2038. Measures include plans to phase out intensive badger culling in England, improve the cattle testing regime and vaccinate more badgers against the disease and improved testing to intercept bTB earlier.
The field trials will be conducted over the next four years on behalf of Defra, the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government, following 20 years of ground-breaking research into bovine TB vaccines and diagnostic tests.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Bovine TB is a slow-moving and insidious disease which can cause considerable trauma for farmers as they suffer the loss of highly prized animals and valued herds. This scientific breakthrough is a major step forwards in our battle to see the disease eradicated from this country. As wider preventative measures like cattle vaccines are introduced, we will accelerate other elements of our strategy and start to phase out badger culling in England, as no one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely.”