THE hog industry pressed the government for detailed results of clinical trials for a vaccine against African Swine Fever (ASF), and to prepare a plan to subsidize hog farmers seeking to use it.

“We welcome all efforts in developing vaccines against ASF on a commercial scale, but we caution (against) the promotion of a particular vaccine brand without the proper protocols, testing procedures and prescribed guidelines,” Jayson H. Cainglet, executive director of Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, said in a Viber message.

Mr. Cainglet called on the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to release in detail the field trial results to allow the industry to assess the efficacy of the vaccine.

He also asked the government to stand ready with subsidies for the vaccine to help hog farmers recover from the outbreak, which began in the Philippines in 2019.

“The hog industry remains predominantly backyard and small-scale. The cost of vaccines should at least be subsidized by the government so that backyard hog raisers are given the same chance of recovering lost income and destroyed livelihoods for the past four years,” Mr. Cainglet said.

BAI Assistant Director Arlene V. Vytiaco announced on Friday that the safety component of the trials was conducted by the BAI while the efficacy trials were conducted at six Luzon farms.

She said that the vaccine tested is the AVAC ASF LIVE vaccine from Vietnam. It has been established that the vaccine produced no side effects on pigs receiving it.

“At the end of the trial, 100% of the vaccinated (pigs) produced antibodies against ASF,” she added.

The bureau has sent a letter of endorsement to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the issuance of a certificate of product registration.

The AVAC vaccine is the third vaccine to undergo clinical trials. The manufacturer is ready to supply 600,000 doses of ASF vaccines, according to Ms. Vytiaco.

Alfred Ng, vice-president of the National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc., said there might be reluctance to use the vaccine with farmers burdened by the expense of repopulating their herds.

“If the (vaccine) has low levels of protection, then it would be easy for the virus to enter but if the vaccine itself causes the infection within the farm, that is a bigger risk. Those are the things we think might happen,” he told BusinessWorld by phone.

He added a bigger sample size of successful vaccinations might persuade more farmers.

“I am not sure how FDA evaluates and approves vaccines for use, but commercial farmers need to be convinced that the commercial trials are successful and indeed give protection to the pigs against ASF,” he added.

FDA spokesman Job Aguzar said in a Viber message that the BAI endorsement remains subject to a pre-assessment process.

“If acceptable, the FDA shall facilitate the evaluation of the submitted dossier to determine the quality, safety and efficacy of the ASF vaccine,” he said.

“At the same time, a request for permit to import additional doses of the vaccine was received today to support the ongoing phase 2 clinical trials being conducted by the applicant with BAI,” he added.

Janice S. Garcia, cluster coordinator of the BAI-National African Swine Fever Prevention and Control Program, said 15 provinces had active ASF cases as of June 1.

“For the last two weeks, the cases have been confined to the Visayas region. We have few detections from very few municipalities and provinces in Luzon and Mindanao,” Ms. Garcia said. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera