File photo for the vaccine trials of DA-BAI with 10 commercial farms previously affected by African Swine Fever || Photo from DA website

The agriculture department continuously runs vaccine trials with 10 commercial farms previously affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF) that would be a help to the hog industry’s recovery, it said in a virtual presser.

Assistant secretary Noel Reyes said the Department of Agriculture(DA) through the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) will soon issue an update with the progress of vaccine trials in collaboration with a US vaccine company, and Zoetiz, a global animal health company.

“Ongoing ang vaccine trials with 10 commercial farms. A month and a half from now, we will issue some statement on that kung anong progress ng vaccine trial,” he said.

According to a recent statement of DA, the vaccine trials started on April 23 and secretary William Dar said these vaccine trials complement the ongoing ‘Bantay ASF sa Barangay’ program implemented by the department.

“We consider it as the proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ that would free us from this dark episode that adversely affected our swine industry, and pork supply and prices,” he said.

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“Once proven effective, the ASF vaccine will serve as a potent tool, complementing our joint efforts with the LGUs, private sector, and hog raisers to effectively control, contain and manage the spread of the ASF, thus paving way for the industry’s faster recovery,” he added.

DA-BAI personnel and veterinarians will conduct and monitor the ASF vaccine trials for 84 days, in line with the current protocols set by the government technical working group, the vaccine manufacturer and Zoetis Philippines, Inc.

DA also stated that Zoetis is the major collaborator of the experimental new vaccine for ASF, which has prevented the virus from killing pigs in an early trial in other countries.

“The DA chief is hopeful that the vaccine trials yield positive results to put an end to the disease that crippled the country’s hog industry, causing loss of livelihood and incomes to backyard and commercial raisers, substantially reducing hog population and supply, and pushing pork prices to unprecedented levels, to the detriment of consumers,” DA noted in a statement.

Commercial hog growers in areas that remain as ASF-free or marked as green zones may avail the P15 billion funded loan programs of DA in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines.

“We can only lend doon sa mga tinatawag na green zones, ‘yong walang ASF. Naghihintay kami doon sa BAI, sila kasi ang mag-i-identify for us kung ano itong mga green zones. So far, maraming na ang inquiries at pinupuntahan ng aming focal persons,” DA Agricultural Credit Policy Council Executive Director Jocelyn Badiola said.

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