To ask Her Majesty's Government what research they have commissioned to assess the efficacy of vaccinating livestock against foot and mouth disease; and when they expect to take a decision on that matter.
Defra currently supports a significant programme of research on foot and mouth disease (FMD) including, to develop strategies for the most efficacious use of currently available vaccines. This is supplemented by further research to develop improved/novel vaccine candidates. A vaccination protocol has also been published on the Defra website: www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimail/diseases/atoz/fmd/documents/vacprotocol.pdf.
In the event of an outbreak, the National Emergency Epidemiology Group (NEEG) leads on the surveillance and epidemiological investigations, working closely with animal health to co-ordinate activity in the field, using modelling capabilities when appropriate. The VLA have a model for FMD (Exodis-FMDT ) which has been designed to assess a range of disease control strategies, one of which is vaccination of cattle, taking into account all the factors that are required under the FMD directive. Defra also has call off contracts in place with Genus PLC, to establish operational vaccination centres within five days. We also work closely with industry representatives through the FMD Core Group to assist in the decision making process.
A decision to vaccinate can be made by the Secretary of State only once an outbreak has been confirmed using all the evidence available to her. The Secretary of State is obliged under Regulations 9 and 10 of the Foot-and-Mouth Disease (Control of Vaccination) (England) Regulations 2006 (2006/183) to consider the case for vaccination for FMD from the outset of a confirmed outbreak, and to publish the decision once it has been made.