A crucial step towards UK field trials for a bovine tuberculosis (bTB) vaccine could be taken within 12 months.

Speaking following the release of the latest bTB figures for Wales, chief veterinary officer Christianne Glossop confirmed an application for an Animal Test Certificate (ATC) was expected to be made to the VMD early next year (2015).
Dr Glossop co-chairs the project group leading the push for the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine to be made available for use in the UK.
Under EU law, trade in live cattle, as well as meat and milk from animals vaccinated with BCG, is illegal and proving the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in UK field conditions is essential to remove the ban. For that to happen, the Government needs an ATC to be issued so field trials can go ahead.
Dr Glossop said: “We [England and Wales] have been having ongoing discussions with the European Commission. About 12 months ago, the commission wrote to the secretary of state with a list of exam questions he would have to address if we were to have any chance of using a vaccine in cattle.
“Work has continued. There is a project board for this and I am co-chair of that, along with being TB policy lead for Defra, and work is happening right now on the questions posed by that letter from EU health commissioner Tonio Borg,” she said.
“Work is going on to answer basic questions about the safety of the BCG vaccine. We have to do that before we can apply to the VMD for an ATC. 
“For us to test the efficacy of the vaccine in the field we are going to have to do very big field trials because the level of challenge is low. So the work is under way to get the ATC, and I hope within the next 12 to 18 months we will be in a position to apply for it.
“Meanwhile, we are working on getting the trials designed and sorting the logistics of running those trials.”

  • For the full article, including details of Wales’ bTB figures, see this week’s Veterinary Times (Vol.44, No.10).
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