USDA adds HPAI vaccine doses to stockpile

Action signals preparation for future outbreak, not a decision to vaccinate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced Oct. 13 it has awarded contracts to two companies to manufacture doses of avian influenza vaccine.

APHIS emphasized that this action was taken to develop the agency's National Veterinary Stockpile and does not signal a decision to vaccinate for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

According to the stakeholder announcement, while APHIS has not approved the use of vaccine to respond to HPAI, the agency is preparing to ensure that vaccine is available should the decision be made to use it during a future outbreak. Any decision to use vaccination in a future HPAI outbreak would require careful consideration of the efficacy of the vaccine, any impacts of using HPAI vaccine in the field and any potential trade impacts.

Earlier in the year, APHIS issued a request for proposals (RFP) for vaccine manufacturers with the interest and capability to supply a variety of Eurasian (EA) H5 vaccines in sufficient numbers to establish the emergency stockpile. As part of the award, companies must:

* Manufacture the number of vaccine doses outlined in their contract, and store those doses up to five years;

* Deliver the finished vaccine anywhere in the country within 10 days of a request for doses from the National Veterinary Stockpile;

* Test the vaccine regularly to ensure continued potency, and

* Provide information and testing results with APHIS upon request.

The HPAI vaccines covered by this award carry either conditional or full licenses from APHIS' Center for Veterinary Biologics, and were carefully evaluated on a number of factors, including their efficacy against EA H5 viruses. The companies included in this award were Harrisvaccines and Ceva.

Although no decision has been made to use vaccine in the event of a future HPAI outbreak, APHIS said it will continue to issue RFPs for vaccine manufacturers on a quarterly basis through September 2016, to allow additional products to be developed and considered for the stockpile should an HPAI outbreak occur. Information about future RFPs and awards will be available on the APHIS website.

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