THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Monday that it has received applications from various companies seeking to introduce African Swine Fever (ASF) and Avian Influenza (AI) vaccines onto the Philippine market.

Agriculture Undersecretary Deogracias Victor B. Savellano told reporters that the vaccines are still undergoing trials.

“(They are still under) testing; once approved and we are okay with all the protocols, then we will recommend the vaccines for purchase,” Mr. Savellano added.

He said that the DA has received five bird flu vaccines for evaluation.

He added that the DA aims to seek approval for testing and use of AI vaccines from the President, who is also the Secretary of Agriculture.

“AI vaccines have been around for a long time now but there is no approved protocol for its testing, approval, and use,” Mr. Savellano said.

He added that four suppliers have expressed interest in bringing ASF vaccines to the Philippines, with two currently being tested.

“They are in various stages of trials at our Veterinary Laboratory Division of the Bureau of Animal Industry,” he said.

He added that until the approval of vaccines, the DA is prescribing heightened biosecurity measures to slow the spread of AI and ASF.

“For both the AI and ASF vaccines, we want to do it fast, but we want to do it safely also. This is a balancing act, but we are streamlining the process to expedite trials, approvals and eventual use,” he added.

The DA has said that it is aiming to increase livestock production by five times by 2028.

Separately, Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Chairman Nicanor M. Briones said in a statement that vaccine testing has only been conducted on starter hogs and not sows and breeders, which are “the ones that produce pigs.”

Mr. Briones added that it would take billions more for the hog industry to recover from the effects of the ASF virus.

The House of Representatives said earlier that it would re-allocate about P1.5 billion towards ASF vaccines. — Adrian H. Halili