The Korea Herald


Korea to make foot-and-mouth vaccine

By 신용배

Published : July 26, 2011 - 19:25

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South Korea will produce vaccines for foot-and-mouth disease next year to protect livestock after the country suffered the worst outbreak of the disease earlier this year, a government agency said Tuesday.

The Animal, Plant and Fisheries Quarantine and Inspection Agency said it plans to import FMD antigens from foreign vaccine manufacturers and get local companies to learn production knowhow so the drugs can be mass produced throughout the country.

At present, only a handful of companies and agencies around the world such as the International Vaccine Bank at Pirbright in Britain, make FMD vaccines. Seoul currently relies entirely on imports to meet demand.

The plan comes as Seoul vaccinated more than 13 million heads of cattle and pigs in the country to contain its most severe outbreak of the highly contagious animal disease that spread from November through April. Authorities culled 3.47 million heads of pigs and cattle at a cost of more than 3 trillion won ($2.8 billion).

For the government’s vaccinations, which began on Dec. 25, to be effective, animals must be given regular shots for an estimated 2-3 years. As a result, the size of the local market could reach a maximum of 60 billion won annually, with up to 40 million animals needing to be vaccinated each year.

QIA, under the farm ministry, said it has selected five local companies ― Green Cross Corp., KBNP Inc., CAVAC, Daesung Microbiological Labs Co. and Komipharm International Co. ― to make the drugs. After conducting tests to see if the locally made vaccines are effective, it will order full-scale production.

“Local production is less expensive compared to imports, especially since the country may have to rely on the drugs to guard against further outbreaks,” a QIA source said. A single dose of the foreign-made vaccine costs between $1 to $1.5.

He added that there may be a steady need for the drug since most countries in Asia have reported cases of FMD, which can be transmitted easily by people and animal feed.

The agency, however, said that if local companies are unable to make effective drugs, Seoul will have to continue to rely on imports to meet local demand.

The farm ministry, meanwhile, said that Seoul will strive to regain its FMD-free status in the future. 

(Yonhap News)