The National Sectoral Committee on Poultry and Livestock (NSC on PL) held a special meeting on August 1, 2023 to discuss updates on the Avian Influenza (AI) and the African Swine Fever (ASF) vaccines.

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) shared that they are currently drafting the guidelines for AI vaccination in collaboration with the Philippine College of Poultry Practitioners (PCPP). The initial draft was presented in a public consultation among government implementers and representatives from the Food and Drug Administration-Regional Field Offices, and other concerned agencies last July 11, 2023. 

A second public consultation will also be conducted on August 8 with private sector stakeholders and government officers as the target participants.

According to Dr. Generoso Rene Romo, Jr. of the PCPP, the Philippines is currently facing problems with the AI substrains H5N1 and H5N8. He also informed the Committee that mutations are possible as a side effect of using non-accredited vaccines. He then proceeded to explain the qualifications they considered for the selection of vaccines.

“First qualification we determined is that it should be homologous in activated vaccines and second is it’s recombinant/platform-based vaccine that has already published cross-protection claims of humoral and cellular immunity,” he furthered.

For the status of the ASF vaccine, Amanel Manalo of the BAI reported that they already completed Phase 1 of the trial testing with results showing at least 80% of the animals producing antibodies 28 days post-vaccination.

Nung nagtest po ng nasal swabs sa safety trial animals ay negative sila and antibodies are reported after 14 days of vaccination. A little over 30 days, naging negative din yung qpcr and walang namatay sa mga animals. Upon the slaughter of the animals, we also tested their organs and turned out negative,” Manalo said.

He also reported that they have ongoing trials for Phase 2 in Batangas, Quezon, and Pangasinan which will run until September 2023.

In line with the Committee’s efforts towards helping eliminate ASF, it passed a policy resolution that endorses to the DA, through BAI, the recommendations from the Retrospective Study on the Epidemiology of African Swine Fever Outbreaks in the Philippines. 

The study was commissioned by the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries to the Agricultural Training Institute-International Training Center on Pig Husbandry (ATI-ITCPH) to evaluate and identify the risk factors involved with the occurrence and spread of the virus. It also assessed the effectiveness of the National Zoning Plan and the control measures implemented by the national and local governments for the development of relevant and effective policy recommendations on ASF control and prevention. | JCL