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Let's discuss the BCG vaccine

 Added by  Sally (Guest)
 21 Apr 2010, 3:44 PM

The BCG vaccine is frequently mentioned as the most common vaccine to help protect against TB. It has been used to protect people from the human form of the disease, although more recently in the UK the vaccination programme has been stopped owing to its poor cost effectiveness. An injectable form has recently been licensed for use on badgers. Could it be used for cattle? Is it a reliable vaccination and has it helped prevent the human form of TB?

The report at http://envirowatch.eu/Bern%20UK%20Probs%202012.pdf makes some interesting comments on the bovine TB situation in the UK. . The report is titled 'European Wildlife Convention: problems in the United Kingdom in 2012. Implementation of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats in the United Kingdom'. Details of the author are at http://envirowatch.eu/
Extracts relating to vaccination are below. These are taken from Section 2 'Controlling bovine TB in England. A lack of science and a breach of the Bern Convention'.
"For years, comprehensive improvements to the management of bTB infected cattle has been sluggish, and growing compensation for owners of infected cattle is currently at £60 million per year, with £30
million of public funds spent on testing. One major problem has been introducing the quite simple procedure of quickly separating those cattle testing positive so that the disease is not spread amongst a herd once detected. One way to help reduce this sustainably is by requiring stricter disease control procedures and practical avoidance techniques including movement constraints. The failure to implement these simple procedures has created an environment where science-based solutions become confused because outdated and inadequate management practises in fields and cowsheds form a shaky baseline in the consideration of how to address disease control. "
"The disease management issue is hindered by a European Union ban on vaccination of cattle because of the difficulty in distinguishing vaccinated cattle from those infected with bTB. This ban needs lifting immediately now that it has become possible to do this with a reasonable level of confidence. The increase in bTB can only be tackled by a mix of better government funded cattle management and badger and cattle vaccination programmes. The UK appears to be resisting this, despite the
inevitability of its current strategy not working This short term approach is extremely worrying given the apparent insufficiency of current measures and the insecurity of the proposed approach to culling that has a multitude of uncertainties and importantly, risky side-effects.
... and the recommendations include:-
"The Bern Convention/Council of Europe should immediately ask the UK to derogate E.C. controls to enable cattle vaccination against bovine TB, so that a vaccination programme can be started for cattle as a matter of urgency and no later than 2014."
"The European Union must, in collaboration with the OIE – the Organisation Internationale des Epizooties (Paris) suspend immediately its ban on vaccination of cattle against bTB in the UK, (Directive 78/52/EEC) in an immediate trial within the UK (and perhaps elsewhere) to accompany badger vaccination and improved stock management guidelines that will reduce and control the disease in a sustainable manner. The Council of Europe should make recommendations to the OIE on behalf of the UK and other affected Member States."

Interestingly the section below on the Defra website was, for some reason, removed on 5th November 2012:
"The studies to generate validation data [on the Diva test] in vaccinated cattle are expected to be completed and data analysed by Easter 2012. If it is deemed that no further studies are needed, our plan is to make an application to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) in summer 2012 for international certification of the test. Providing the OIE is satisfied with the fitness for purpose of the test, the earliest we could have OIE validation and certification would be the end of 2012."
see 'Differential diagnosis of BCG-vaccinated animals from TB-infected animals' section at http://www.defra.gov.uk/animal-diseases/a-z/bovine-tb/vaccination/cattle-vaccination/
On the Farmers Weekly website (see link below), a video of Anne McIntosh, chairman of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, explains why MPs have launched the inquiry examining the vaccination of badgers and cattle in relation to bovine TB.
Two minutes in, talking about cattle vaccine, she mentions the Diva test which she understands "does not exist"! She needs to talk to Defra?
Re the posting on 8th November we urge people to participate in the Government inquiry into bovine TB vaccination (to include both cattle and badgers). We hope you will stress the importance of allowing vaccination as a matter of urgency. With regards to effects on exports - don't forget that we vaccinate cattle for many other reasons and that the meat from reactors and inconclusives often goes into the human food chain.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is asking for all interested parties to submit evidence to them by 11 January 2013.
The committee is also inviting evidence on the impact and challenges of vaccination on cattle and cattle product exports.
Here's the link to the vaccine inquiry info on the Parliament website:
"The Committee invites all interested parties to address these and related matters in writing by Friday 11 January 2013."
PDF download "How to submit evidence to the EFRA Committee"
Interesting comment on article at www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/nov/11/alice-roberts-bovine-tb-badgers?commentpage=1#comment-19393508
It is from 'BadgerFriendlyFarmer'
11 November 2012 12:01PM
Farmers need the option of a cattle vaccine and Defra needs to tackle the EU to sort this out. The research has already been done with positive conclusions.
A Defra report entitled "Options for Vaccinating Cattle Against Bovine Tuberculosis" produced in 2008 and endorsed by numerous prominent stakeholders, including the NFU, set about modelling various vaccination programs, including the compulsory vaccination of high risk herds in annual testing parishes.
The model showed that this option, funded by the govt, would save up to one fifth of the costs of the current 'test and cull' policy, as follows:
"The model predicts vaccinating cattle in yearly tested parishes would cost around £170 million to £180 million over the period from introduction in 2012 to the end of the modelled period in 2026. It predicts benefits from fewer breakdowns and less routine testing of between £150 million and £250 million, potentially saving up to one fifth of the costs of the current policy measures. The benefits from vaccinating cattle in yearly tested parishes are likely to justify its costs over this period."
The report suggests that certifying vaccinated cattle - eg.stamping their individual passports - would save on resources in terms of the Diva test.
It's time for ministers and others to drop the badger shoot diversion and get on with their jobs.
An AgResearch scientist from Hopkirk Institute in Palmerston North, New Zealand, recently won a $100,000 global grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to research a new tuberculosis vaccination method.
Axel Heiser received the Grand Challenges Explorations grant to apply nano-particle technology to vaccinate against both human and bovine TB.
The research project uses PolyBatics, which is a type of nano-particle technology developed by Bernd Rehm at Massey University.
“(Rehm) showed how you could genetically modify bacteria to make little beads inside them which express antigens that work as a vaccine,” Heiser said, according to Fairfax NZ News. “If we can prove our hypothesis that biobeads produced in mycobacteria can be used as a novel type of vaccine against mycobacterial infections, including tuberculosis, we could apply this approach to a whole range of infectious diseases.”
Heiser received funding after submitting an application with his creative idea in one of five critical global health and development areas. The money will be used to try to prove the validity of the technology for developing a TB vaccine. The concept will soon be tested on mice.
“If (the mice are protected), that is ‘proof of principle’ and we would then go into a round of funding for the following year, which can be $1 million,” Heiser said.
Heiser said that a veterinary vaccine was likely to be developed first and that a TB vaccine for humans would require additional time, Fairfax NZ News reports.
Info from : http://vaccinenewsdaily.com/vaccine_development/320501-agresearch-receives-grant-from-gates-foundation-for-tb-research/
MPs have announced an inquiry into bovine TB vaccination - to include both cattle and badgers.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is asking for all interested parties to submit evidence to them by 11 January 2013.
“The inquiry is expected to cover the likely timescales and challenges in delivering vaccination programmes, their costs and efficacy, and whether a vaccination programme could be delivered without having a negative effect on UK exports,” said a statement.
Submissions are invited on the current injectible badger vaccine programme and the costs, and also the effectiveness and timetable to delivery of:
• Oral badger TB vaccine;
• Cattle TB vaccine; and
• Diagnostic test for differentiating infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA)
The committee is also inviting evidence on the impact and challenges of vaccination on cattle and cattle product exports.
Interesting comment from Dr Ruth Watkins at http://www.warmwell.com/ruthsept2012.html
The trial to test whether the BCG vaccine was safe to give to badgers in the wild did not determine the efficacy of tha BCG vaccine. It was not designed to do so. There were no tests to show whether the badgers who were statpak test negative were infected or not - just that they did not have antibody as measured by that test. They may have been infected but not yet have made antibody, or the fall in antibody positivity as compared to a previous year may have been part of annual fluctuations in rates of badger infection and disease with M bovis in that population (their lives are quite short).
The laboratory testing of the vaccine showed no protection against infection of vaccinated badgers (they were careful to be sure the badgers in the lab trial were not previously infected and had time to respond to the BCG vaccine) but the lab trial did show the disease process was modified, less widespread and lower numbers of organism.
If I recall correctly all the vaccinated and infected badgers in the laboratory trial of vaccine did become antibody positive by the statpak test before they were killed for detailed study. So it is possible the vaccination of badgers in the wild had a protective effect for those that aquired infection after vaccination, slowing or even halting the progression of disease (so if they were infected they had not progressed to widespread disease and antibody production) but we do not know the answer to that - the vaccine is known to have this effect in humans too but protection against infection in the first place has never been proved.
Email from MG dated 1/11/12 re response he has had from Welsh Assembly.
We believe that cattle vaccination has the potential to make an important contribution to TB eradication in the future. In order to progress consideration of vaccination as part of package of measures aimed at addressing all sources of TB infection we are holding a high level cattle vaccination technical workshop in Cardiff in December. World experts on vaccination strategies have been invited to attend. The aim of the workshop is to identify the options for a vaccination strategy and to ensure we are ready to respond once the technical and legislative hurdles associated with cattle vaccination have been overcome.
The outputs from the workshop will be used to inform wider stakeholder engagement during 2013.
Please see our recently updated webpages for information on cattle vaccination: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/environmentcountryside/ahw/disease/bovinetuberculosis/bovinetberadication/cattlevaccination/?lang=en
Further information is available on the Defra website at the following link: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animal-diseases/a-z/bovine-tb/vaccination/cattle-vaccination/
Yours Sincerely
TB Team
Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer
Email from farmers G and DP dated 2/11/12.
This outdated 'test and cull' policy is spiralling out of control. The NFU have done nothing but make the situation worse, attracting publicity by using sensationalised headlines, causing controversy with their blinkered badger cull plans and now the farmers in the two and three year testing areas will be paying the price. It's time for the real farming industry to stand up and says "enough's enough". We are trusted to manage our cattle in the face of other infections equal in severity to bTB. Cattle vaccine is available, Defra need to license it and we saw with blue-tongue the speed at which they can work if the political will is there. Turn your sights on Defra and demand they get the EU rules changed because UK famers have to take back control of their herds before Defra's 'test and cull' policy wipes us all out.
The Krebs' report said vaccination was the most promising strategy (see extract below) - so maybe we should be demanding to know why all the attention has, instead, been focussed on the wildlife reservoir (despite most accepting that badger culling is not cost effective, is publicly unpopular and likely to make so little difference and even make situation worse)? Little/nothing has been done to pave the way for EU reg changes. Girling admitted this in the Farming Today interview on 27 October 2012.
UK Report
1999 – 2005
The Krebs report has recommended the development of cattle vaccines as the most promising strategy to control bovine tuberculosis in the UK. ‘Testing TB Vaccines in cattle – SE3212’ Report can be downloaded as a PDF from the internet. Cost: £1,609,963
'Used alongside existing measures, a cattle vaccine has the potential to make an important contribution to the eradication of bovine TB in the future', says the page on 'Cattle' Vaccination' on the WAG website (http://wales.gov.uk/topics/environmentcountryside/ahw/disease/bovinetuberculosis/bovinetberadication/cattlevaccination/?lang=en).
It goes on to say 'Developing an effective cattle vaccine is a high priority. There has been, and continues to be, significant investment in research and development. Currently, BCG (Mycobacterium bovis Bacille Calmette-Guérin) is considered the most suitable vaccine. Studies have shown that BCG vaccination reduces the progression, severity and excretion of bovine TB in cattle. Field studies have also shown that it can reduce the spread of disease between animals. However, BCG in cattle, as with BCG in other species, is not 100% effective in preventing TB.'
'Vaccination of cattle against TB is currently prohibited under EU legislation. Cattle injected with a BCG-based vaccine are likely to react to the tuberculin skin test, the primary diagnostic test used to establish if a herd is TB free. Under current rules animals sensitised against tuberculin (the antigen used in the skin test) have to be slaughtered or re-tested and their herds of origin lose their officially TB free (OTF) status. Herd TB freedom is needed for herds to trade live cattle and cattle products and so vaccine use would lead to trade restrictions.'
'To help overcome these problems, research by Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) has led to the development of a new blood test. The DIVA test has been developed to distinguish between infected and vaccinated animals. It is hoped that the DIVA test will gain international recognition from the World Organisation for Animal Health.'
'Changes will be required to European legislation to allow the DIVA test to be used in place of, or alongside, the tuberculin skin test. Changing European legislation is a lengthy and uncertain process which, if successful, is likely to take several years. The possible future use of cattle vaccines is the subject of ongoing discussion with the European Commission. Currently, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) is assessing an application for a Marketing Authorisation for the proposed cattle BCG vaccine. However, this VMD assessment cannot result in the granting of a cattle vaccine licence while cattle vaccination remains prohibited under EU legislation.'
'In preparation for any changes in legislation we have started to consider a cattle vaccination strategy for Wales. Cattle vaccination would be a TB risk-reduction, not a risk-elimination measure. No single control measure will eradicate this complex disease. Vaccines can only contribute to the control of bovine TB. As with many other disease control strategies, it is a combination of measures that is most likely to be successful.'

According to Farmers Weekly (www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/26/10/2012/135938/Brussels-slams-Brian-May-over-TB-vaccine-claim.htm) the EU has criticised the article written by Brian May (see forum posting below on 21/10/12) following his visit to Brussels to ascertain if cattle vaccination could be expedited for the UK. It is alleged Brian misquoted Mr Haeusler.
"Some of the quotes are out of context or inaccurate - and therefore misleading," said a statement issued by the European Commission.
Vaccination of cattle against TB is forbidden under current EU rules agreed by all member states, including the UK, the statement says.
If such a test were to be developed and approved at EU and international levels - which would take time - the rules could be changed relatively quickly, the statement said. Well, read into the last sentence what you like! Firstly, we are told it will take time and then we are told the rules could be changed quickly .... Odd that other countries can and are vaccinating cattle already - see post below - but maybe it is much easier to implement such changes outside the EU?
But Mr Haeusler explained this would be the responsibility of the health commissioner, who deals with vaccination issues, and who could also advise on the exact process and timing in this case.
Brussels had provided substantial financial support to the approved UK bovine TB eradication programme, said the commission statement.
For 2012, some €31.2m (£25.2m) had been allocated to implement a rapid eradication strategy. There was no EU financial support provided for the culling of badgers.

Well a BBC news item at www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19890114 states that cattle have been vaccinated in New Zealand since 2004. Their products are consumed locally because they also use a test that can tell between TB infection and vaccination, although the products cannot be exported to either the EU or the US. Paul Livingstone, manager of TB eradication and research at the Animal Health Board in New Zealand, told BBC News: "BCG-vaccinated cattle are consumed on the local New Zealand market, we don't export their carcases to the USA."
Cattle vaccination has been tested on research sites, where cattle are grazed in areas where possums, which carry TB, are present.
"You're saving about 65% of cattle from becoming infected," said Dr Livingstone. "But it's not 100%."
A cattle vaccine and Diva (Differentiate Infected from Vaccinated Animals) test has already been developed by UK scientists and submitted to regulators for licence.
However, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the approval process could take years.
Field trials on cattle TB vaccines are banned in the UK. This makes no sense. Several countries now have vaccination programmes for cattle, including the US, Argentina, Ethiopia, Mexico and New Zealand.
They include small field trials carried out in Ethiopia over two years, which showed that TB vaccination protected 56% of cattle from infection. A study in Mexico gave similar results.
Prof Glyn Hewinson of the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency said: "Although these are small-scale trials, they are indicative of the sort of protection one might expect, but larger-scale trials will be required to give us greater certainty around the effects of vaccination." How can such trials take place when the vaccine is urgently banned in the EU? This needs urgent change.
“Ministers must stand up to EU after Badger Cull Vote”
The Commons motion passed today by an overwhelming majority of 119 does not just condemn the badger cull, it clearly calls for the only realistic solution; “a vaccination programme for badgers and cattle”.
It is clear from statements by Defra that the cattle vaccine and the DIVA test to distinguish between infected and vaccinated cattle are ready to license. Cattle vaccination against Bovine TB, on Defra’s own figures, would give 56 – 68% efficacy, far more effective than any other proposed action.
Only two obstacles stand in the way. EU law currently forbids vaccination of cattle against Bovine TB, and because of this Defra have failed to carry out field trials to complete the licensing process.
Michael Ritchie, spokesman for Rethink Bovine TB said that “Defra seem to have got completely bogged down in a deadly mixture of their own and the EU’s bureaucratic inertia”. “The new Defra Ministers have a unique opportunity to make a real difference to farmers and to cattle welfare by standing up to Brussels. With the political will, which the e-petition and today’s Commons vote has shown exists, we could be vaccinating cattle and reducing Bovine TB within months”
The cattle vaccine (BCG) has been used for many decades on humans against the human strain of TB. It is ready for licensing for cattle, along with the “DIVA” test able to distinguish between infected and vaccinated cattle.
Defra admit that recent research indicates a protective effect for BCG of between 56% and 68%. This vastly outperforms the most optimistic estimates for badger culling.
No vaccine is perfect – the object when vaccinating herds is to give the herd a level of combined immunity which slows the spread of the disease until it reaches zero. Cattle vaccination could be used alongside almost any other policies, including the vaccination of badgers which is underway in Pembrokeshire after the Welsh Government abandoned plans for a badger cull.
Defra figures are at:
Rethink Bovine TB is an independent research group funded by people with an interest in examining public policy as it affects agriculture, animal diseases, animal welfare and the financial viability of farming. www.rethinkbtb.org
From early next year farmers will be suffering even more controls because of bTB. This will involve increased testing and movement restrictions for many. Of course farmers should be able to vaccinate their cattle against bTB. This is the aim but when? Even when vaccination becomes an option will farmers be expceted to continue regular testing using the DIVA test? Surely in most cases this would not be necessary? An interesting thought recently from a beef farmer:
'The Diva test is only required for cattle destined for export, it serves no other purpose, and was probably dreamed up before the introduction of individual cattle passports. Stamping passports of vaccinated cattle would suffice. Since every bovine animal has a unique ear tag and matching passport these days, and the passport can be stamped to say the animal has been vaccinated against bTB, shouldn't we be arguing that the cattle passport has superceded the need for a Diva test?'

Defra were quick off the mark in issuing the following (http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2012/10/21/myth-bust-tb-vaccine/)Myth bust – vaccinating cattle against bovine TB
Their statements are below. Odd as we have had correspondence sent to us some time ago, from Defra, that states the Diva test is ready to license! Do they really know what is happening?
Defra Statement
The myth: in an article in the Mail on Sunday on 21 October, Brian May claims that the UK can already vaccinate cattle against TB if it wants to.
The truth: cattle vaccination is not currently permitted in the UK. If cattle were vaccinated using a vaccine that is not licensed by the EU, Britain would no longer be able to export livestock, meat, or dairy products, at an estimated cost to the industry of £2.3bn.
Before a vaccine can be used, we must be able to demonstrate we have a test which can tell the difference between an animal that is infected with TB or one that has been vaccinated. We’re working on this test (known as the “DIVA test”) as quickly as possible but it is still some way off being ready to use.
We can respond as below:
1) This Defra press release contradicts the statements made by their own spokesman Professor Glyn Hewinson of Defra's Animal Health and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, Surrey who was quoted in the Independent, 8th Oct 2012, as saying they have developed a "diva" test
see http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/vaccine-breakthrough-may-mean-no-more-badger-culls-8201315.html
2) It also contradicts the information on Defra's own website which states:
"The studies to generate validation data [on the Diva test] in vaccinated cattle are expected to be completed and data analysed by Easter 2012. If it is deemed that no further studies are needed, our plan is to make an application to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) in summer 2012 for international certification of the test. Providing the OIE is satisfied with the fitness for purpose of the test, the earliest we could have OIE validation and certification would be the end of 2012."
see 'Differential diagnosis of BCG-vaccinated animals from TB-infected animals' section at http://www.defra.gov.uk/animal-diseases/a-z/bovine-tb/vaccination/cattle-vaccination/
3) The estimated value of the export market, £2.3bn, should be challenged.
Are they saying that the export of all farm goods would cease?
If they are referring to dairy and beef exports alone then the following refs can dispute their figure easily:
a) Dairy - "The value of UK exports of milk products is significantly lower than the value of imports and in 2010 the UK had a trade deficit of about £1,219m in dairy products." see Defra website http://www.defra.gov.uk/food-farm/food/food-industry/milk-industry/
b) EBLEX (English Beef & Lamb Executive) produce a Cattle Yearbook containing info on export available for download at
or download directly from this link
page 6 has an easy reference Beef Marketing chart which gives the total value beef/meat exports as £467million

Brian May has been doing a tremendous job in exposing the facts about bovine TB. A vehement opposer of the badger cull he has clearly looked at all the issues involved. His recent article in the Daily Mail (www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2220734/This-cruel-badger-cull-pointless--I-prove-says-Queen-guitarist-Brian-May.html? ito=feeds-newsxml) sums up progress to date.
Interestingly Brian had a brief encounter with the new Defra Minister, Owen Paterson, who, he said, seemed positively jubilant about the ‘imminent’ badger cull he is so enthusiastically backing. Brian asked him; ‘Surely it would be better to vaccinate cattle instead of this cruel cull of badgers?’ He gave a condescending smile and said: ‘Not a chance! Vaccination of cattle is years away.’ He pushed the palm of his hand into the middle distance, effectively cutting off any further discussion.
Brian's article goes on to say 'So WHY is Mr Paterson, his Government and the National Farmers Union clinging to this discredited and highly unpopular policy? Why can we not vaccinate our cows as we do our children?'. Of course, by now most of us embroiled in this issue know the answers:
a)  We can’t vaccinate because it’s impossible to distinguish a vaccinated cow from an infected cow. Therefore cows can’t be exported as buyers won’t risk bringing bTB into their country.
b)  We can’t vaccinate because the EU won’t let us. Even last week Caroline Spelman, the ex-Defra Minister who brought in this cull, told me: ‘It would take years to change this – we’d have to go around every member state in Europe begging for a derogation.’
Earlier this month Brian, accompanied by Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA, and a delegation from TeamBadger visited Brussels to find out why the EU would not allow the UK to vaccinate our cows. They were joined, at their request, by a representative from the NFU.
Brian said; 'What we discovered is a bomb that will blow the idea of culling badgers out of the water for ever. We were warmly welcomed at the European Parliament by MEPs of all parties – 90% against culling wild animals, and 100% in favour of helping us make cattle vaccination in Britain happen'.   
Next stop was the European Commission. Why, they asked Georg Haeusler, Chef de Cabinet for Agriculture, would the EU not let us vaccinate cows?
Brian said; 'He looked at us in surprise and said: ‘But this is not true. You British are welcome to. You would find it was not possible to sell cows into the mainland of Europe because we would be risking bringing bTB into our countries. But you do not export live cows to us anyway. It would be meat and milk and other ‘‘products’’ made from  cattle that would be proscribed. But there would be no police descending on you if you began vaccinating tomorrow.’
So, there you have it.It has taken all these years to get to the truth but it is all coming out now and all because of the imminent threat to one of of the UK's best loved mammals.
Full article at http://brianmay.com/brian/brianssb/brianssboct12c.html#22

This article in Farmers Weekly says that Defra will make more farmers' lives a misery by dragging the two and three year testing areas into annual testing, starting Jan 2013.

Interesting article at www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19979519 It is an article that is about the human form of TB . The international effort to eliminate tuberculosis is 'in real danger', according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Globally it is on the increase and it is now resistant to antibiotics.
Many researchers say that new vaccines will be the only long-term solution to tuberculosis.
The BCG vaccine is 90 years old. It is very effective at preventing severe TB, such as TB meningitis, in children. However, it is less effective at preventing TB in the lungs, which is where adults and teenagers tends to be infected.
Dr Ann Ginsberg, vice-president of Aeras, an organisation working on vaccines said, "If we really want to control this epidemic we need safe, affordable vaccines - but it's a very complex disease and may require multiple vaccines."
Dr Ginsberg said it was "going to be a slog", but that progress had been made in the past decade with researchers going from no new vaccines in the pipeline to having 12 being tested.
The first clues to the effectiveness of the new wave of vaccines are expected in the next year when the trial data from a vaccine developed in at the University of Oxford is completed.
Prof Helen McShane has developed the MVA85A vaccine which has been given to nearly 3,000 babies in Africa.
She said: "If it proves effective, it would be a hugely exciting result."
Prof Robbie McDonald (chair in natural environment, University of Exeter and former head of wildlife science and deputy chief scientist of the Food and Environment Research Agency) says culling or vaccinating badgers will yield "unimpressive" results in controlling TB.
Prof John McInerney (emeritus professor of agricultural policy, University of Exeter) says cost of each pilot trial £1.5m. Will save £970,000 in disease costs
Prof Christl Donnelly, professor of statistical epidemiology, MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling, Imperial College London says the badger cull won't lead to the greater benefits NFU claim.
Source: EcoAudit http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/oct/17/badger-cull-science-cows-tuberculosis?newsfeed=true
Some very interesting points extracted from an email dated 14/10/12 from a farmer in one of pilot cull areas:
'Whereas I can understand that a 16% decrease in the incidence of BTb is very attractive to suffering farmers in the short term, vaccination seems a no-brainer as a permanent solution'.
'The human BCG vaccine has only been tested in Ethiopia in herds of cattle that are 100% infected with BTb. This was 60% effective which is a higher percentage than the accuracy of our present skin test! Also as BTb incidence in most herds would be less than 5%, the efficiency would be much higher into the 90%+'.
'It also begs the question as to why we are not making a BTb vaccine for the farmers of Ethiopia where the disease must surely transfer to humans via unpasteurised milk?'
'There is likely to be a more cattle specific cattle vaccine out soon if only Brussels and Defra could be shown the light, away from their blinkered slaughter policy.'
'Vets need to be involved in a vaccination program and the cattle passports would need to be stamped....not an onerous cost.The disease can then be monitored by extra vigilance in slaughterhouses and dairies.
The infection vector between cattle and badgers would be broken permanently, leaving us with healthy cows and healthy badgers.'
'Farms that want to export would have to use embryos if the rules did not allow for vaccinated cattle showing positive blood tests'.
'This would be a small price to pay against the millions your Government spends on testing and slaughtering for BTb, together with the millions lost by farms who are put under restrictions. I guess a vaccine would cost £5/cow.......less than the labour for a couple of Tb tests.'
According to Prof John Bourne, stricter measures to stop cows spreading tuberculoisis to other cows are the only way to combat the disease effectively, as they had in the 1960s when TB was virtually eradicated in England. "Despite some improvements, the government is still going nowhere near far enough with biosecurity", he said. "It is not badgers that spread the disease throughout the country; it is cattle".
The most recent European commission inspection of England's biosecurity uncovered a catalogue of failures , including missed targets in the rapid removal of infected cattle with TB and "weaknesses in disinfection at farm, vehicle, market and slaughterhouse levels".
Another eminent scientist and former government scientific adviser, Lord Robert May, pointed to vaccination as an important tool in tackling TB, which Welsh ministers have backed after abandoning their cull plans. "What is particularly irritating is that we have the vaccines in the pipeline, but the commitment to really go in and test them is really not there," he said. The coalition cancelled five of the six trials of injectable badger vaccines on taking office.
Bourne said: "The real reason for the cull is that politicians are desperate and I think farmers have been hoodwinked for years."
He said key differences between his team's methodology and the government's cull, including a very different killing method and much longer killing period, were significant: "It could make TB a damn sight worse."
Bourne was one of dozens of senior scientists who demanded the "mindless" government cull be halted in a letter to the Observer on Sunday and accused ministers of misusing the science. Ministers claimed the science has moved on since the decade-long trial ended in 2007. But Lord John Krebs, the architect of the trial, rejected this: "That is simply not true."
Krebs said he was puzzled at the zeal of the National Farmers' Union for the cull: "Their President Peter Kendall is going to have a lot of angry farmers on his hands in three-four years' time, saying we have spent a lot of money on the cull but we still have TB."
Info from: www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/oct/15/badger-cull-government-accused?newsfeed=tru
Dave Purser owns a 48ha pasture farm in Glos. He comes from a local farming family and has kept his own cattle since the 1980′s in a TB ‘hot-spot’. The business has included a commercial beef and calf rearing unit but the herd has never been under TB2 restrictions. Here he gives his views on the bovine TB problems.
I've kept cattle in a Gloucestershire 'TB hot-spot' since the 80's so I'm no stranger to the rigmarole of annual bTB testing. But the dread I feel at testing time comes from the threat posed by Defra's 'test and cull' policy rather than concern about the disease itself.
In every other instance where disease threatens our cattle, we have vaccination in our armoury. We know that vaccines reduce the incidence of disease in our cattle and this gives us scope to use our own skills to manage the health and welfare of our herds to suit our particular circumstances.
We are only denied this essential approach with bTB because of an outdated EU directive governing export which insists on 'accelarated eradication' of the disease and simultaneously bans the use of cattle vaccine, which predictably leads to carnage in all directions.
We are a well informed society, especially since the advent of the internet, so even the casual observer can see that the answer to this issue is to challenge the EU and get the rules changed to allow cattle vaccine - hence the huge and justifiable public outcry in opposition to a massacre of our badgers.
It's not good enough these days for those in favour of the cull to use sensational headlines and hope the public will simply accept what they read.
"26000 cattle were slaughtered in 2011 for TB control" - yes, but Defra's own figures tell you that there were 5.4million cattle in England in 2011*. This is a loss of less than half a percent of the national herd which is easily outnumbered by those cattle routinely slaughtered every year because of ailments such as lameness, mastitis etc.
"11.5% of herds were restricted in 2011" - yes, in other words, 88.5% of herds were NOT restricted in 2011 demonstrating that only a small proportion of herds are affected by bTB.
And restricted herds can carry on trading despite TB restrictions, as described in detail on the website of the TB Farm Advisory Service at http://www.southwest-tbadvice.co.uk/ which includes case studies showing the many options available.
So facts, figures and science show that bTB is not "the main threat to the cattle industry" but is actually a problem for a minority of herds, mostly in the West country. Cases of bTB have not risen dramatically, there is no epidemic, there is nothing different about 2012 to explain any hysteria so there is simply no justification for the rush to shoot badgers now.
The NFU, NBA and other farming bodies should avoid a PR disaster by abandoning the badger cull and start putting their weight behind forming an accreditation scheme under which UK farmers can be given the option of vaccinating their cattle and each animal's passport can be stamped to show that they are then excluded from export.
Members of the scheme could be exempted from the 'test and cull' policy which would give the pedigree and dairy herds an opportunity to avoid the needless slaughter of their breeding stock and protect their gene pools by using vaccination and accreditation instead.
The scheme wouldn't have to include all counties because we can't expect farmers in the two, three and four year testing areas, who form the the vast majority of herds in the country, to share the burden with those of us in the 'hot-spots'.
But before the doom merchants say it can't be done, let's remember that this approach isn't new. It's exactly how we eradicated brucellosis, another infectious cattle disease, some twenty odd years ago**. Aren't we meant to get wiser with age?
 * for cattle numbers in England in 2011 see http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/files/defra-stats-foodfarm-landuselivestock-june-statsrelease-englandcropslivestocklabour-111... , page 2.
** for Brucellosis see Defra publication: "Options for vaccinating cattle against bovine tuberculosis", Annex 1- 'Examples of vaccination policies for other diseases, Brucellosis Vaccination' http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/documents/vaccine_cattle.pdf
As the badger culling start date looms the media have carried many reports, mainly about the massive public opposition to the proposed shooting and evident strength of feeling among those who are opposed to the policy. Of course many of us believe that the best way forward is cattle vaccination.
Ardent opposer of the cull, Brian May, is currently in Brussels to campaign for cattle vaccinations as a humane alternative to the slaughter. He is campaigning hard for a change in the law to allow the use of the BCG vaccination, due to be licensed soon for cattle. He is joined by Gavin Grant, RSPCA Chief Executive. Brian established Teambadger which brings together all the leading UK animal charities opposing the cull.
Brian and Gavin are meeting a range of European officials and parliamentarians, including figures from the European Environment and Agriculture directorates general. Brian May said: “What is absolutely clear from the available scientific evidence is that vaccination of cattle and badgers, along with bio-security and movement controls in the farming industry, is the only way to make meaningful progress.”
In the meantime prominent scientists question the cull. Lord John Krebs at the University of Oxford (he headed the team that carried out the original trials), calls the cull 'crazy' and says: "The pilot cull is flawed because it aims to remove 70% of badgers without an accurate estimate of the starting number". He has accused ministers of 'cherry picking' from his results to justify the programme. "I'm certainly not impressed with the current policy," he said.
Christl Donnelly, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, who was also a member of the team that performed the original trials has reservations too; 'Is it worth culling so many animals for 16% fewer infected herds? There, you get very different answers depending who you ask.'
Responding, Farm Minister, David Heath said it was a 'little disrespectful' of those scientists who followed up previous trials to 'simply say that their work is not effective'. A pretty pathetic response.
Many campaigners apparently suspect the reasons for the culls going ahead as being partly due a caving in by the Coalition government to blood-sport enthusiasts - who like nothing more than running around at night shooting helpless wild animals. We should remember that badgers were tormented for generations in England by blood sports enthusiasts until the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 made badger baiting illegal. UK animal welfare charities report a resurgence of this illegal barbaric practice in recent years, along with an increase of animal cruelty in general.
Information from:
www.telegraph. co.uk/earth/earthnews/9603758/Cull-of-little-black-and-white-creatures-not-political-minister-claims.html

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