BRITAIN’S Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has confirmed it is looking at an application to produce a vaccination against Schmallenberg disease.
The organisation, which regulates and authorises animal medicines in the UK, said the application for the Bovilis SBV vaccine from MSD Animal Health was being studied.
It is unprecedented for VMD to publish an update on the progress of an application.
The VMD said in a statement: “For reasons of commercial confidentiality, the VMD is not usually able to comment on whether or not it has received a specific application for a veterinary medicine.
“Equally, it is unable to comment on the progression of a particular application.
“However, in view of the considerable media interest surrounding MSD’s application for a Provisional Marketing Authorisation for Bovilis SBV, and in order to avoid any misconceptions, MSD has agreed that the VMD can share the following information regarding the progression of their application.”
The application was initially submitted at the end of August last year and has gone through a number of regulatory stages since then.
The VMD said: “Despite the good progress, at this stage it is not possible to provide an indication of when the vaccine may be authorised. The VMD recognises the impact on individual animals and farmers that a disease such as Schmallenberg can have.
“Mindful of this, the VMD will operate timelines for the remaining stages of consideration of the application, while ensuring, through our rigorous scientific assessment process, that proper care is taken to ensure that any vaccine is safe for the relevant livestock.”
The disease, which affects pregnant sheep and cattle and causes late abortions, stillbirths and birth defects, is believed to have arrived in the UK via infected midges blown across the Channel. A group of vets working in practices from Cumbria and down into Yorkshire and Lancashire are aiming to monitor the spread of the disease across the North, in conjunction with MSD.
The Farm Vets Northwest group, involving 11 practices and 110 vets, is carrying out farm tests on dairy cattle and sheep to look for incidences of Schmallenberg.
It comes as Government spending cuts have stopped Defra carrying out its own surveillance into the spread of the disease, which is now in its second year in the UK.
The Farm Vets Northwest group is putting together a map of where positive Schmallenberg tests have been taken.