ASF vaccine manufacturer AVAC hopes to help Asia

03-08-2023 | |
AVAC CEO, Dr Nguyen Van Diep, photographed while addressing the audience at the Asian Pig Veterinary Society Congress 2023 in Taipei, Taiwan.
AVAC CEO, Dr Nguyen Van Diep, photographed while addressing the audience at the Asian Pig Veterinary Society Congress in Taipei, Taiwan. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Late July 2023 there was a worldwide scoop for Vietnam: the 1st ever 2 vaccines against African Swine Fever were granted market authority. One of these companies was AVAC, a pharmaceutical company based close to the capital Hanoi. Pig Progress spoke to its CEO, Dr Nguyen Van Diep. He hopes the vaccine can soon be available to more countries in Asia.

Being granted permission wasn’t so much a big reason for celebrations, Nguyen explained. Rather, at the company, employing more than 100 people, it was relief. The approval period had lasted for a long time, he explained.

AVAC ASF Live is the name of the live attenuated vaccine which can be sold commercially in Vietnam for use in grower pigs as from 4 weeks of age, to be applied post-weaning. Roughly after 2 weeks the animals are protected, Nguyen explained, who has a PhD in Veterinary Science from Miyazaki University in Japan. The vaccine, he added, provides protection up to 5 months against genotype II of the ASF virus.

Nguyen said: “We started the development of the vaccine late 2020, when we received a strain from the United States. In fact, the USA had 3 different live vaccine candidate strains available, and these were further developed by 3 Vietnamese companies. At AVAC we worked with the ASFv-G-Δ-MGF strain.”

Efficacy trials were carried out in farms throughout Vietnam. “Over 605,000 doses of the vaccine have been tested (1 shot per pig) at 596 farms. That was a huge amount of work. The efficacy rate turned out to be over 90%,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen continued to say, “We had to do it under government supervision but we had to pay everything by ourselves – there was no financial support.”

So far the vaccine is not registered for use in sows. Nguyen explained: “Especially the effects in the transplacental phase are not clear. In addition, doing work in a breeder herd requires a lot of work. That is why we chose now to focus on the grower pigs. It is difficult to say when the vaccine will become available for use in sows.”

Dr Nguyen is aware that off-label application of the vaccine is likely to happen, mostly on small-scale farms.

Apart from AVAC, also the company Navetco received marketing authorisation for its live vaccine late July – based on a different strain, being ASFv-G-ΔI177L. In total, 47,000 doses of that vaccine were tested, Nguyen explained. A 3rd Vietnamese pharmaceutical company, Dabaco, is still working on the development of its live vaccine.

AVAC – as does the entire Asian pig industry – has high hopes for the future to get ASF finally under control. In the Philippines, efficacy trials have already started with the AVAC vaccine. In addition, Nguyen said that the registration process for the vaccine is currently already on the way in Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Cambodia.

Ever since its introduction in eastern Asia in 2018, African Swine Fever infected various countries there, except Japan, Taiwan and Brunei. The virus led to millions of pigs dying or being culled.

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Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world