New USDA Policy enables more U.S. research and vaccine development for foot and mouth disease (FMD), but biosecurity precautions and approval processes will take several years, says UDSA Chief Veterinarian Jack Shere.
In Late April, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue authorized access to genetically modified, non-infectious (FMD) virus on the U.S. mainland. Previously, the only location allowed to use live FMD virus in research was the Plum Island Animal Disease Center off the coast of Long Island, N.Y.
Shere says the new policy will allow companies to work with USDA’s Center for Veterinary Biologics in securing approval to use the live virus in vaccine development and other FMD research. The change Shere says, should allow a more rapid response in vaccine production in case of an outbreak, positioning U.S. companies to quickly scale up production of strain-specific vaccines. Currently, the United States would need to rely largely on overseas manufacturers to supply the vaccines, which would add several critical days to response time. Vaccine manufacturing capacity on the U.S. mainland also could keep costs lower for livestock producers, Shere says.
Shere adds though, that companies intending to work with the live virus will be subject to an extensive authorization process requiring extensive biosecurity measures in the design of their facilities and processes. That permitting process, he says, will require at least two to three years, and possibly up to five years, before private companies begin work with the modified-live FMD virus on the U.S. Mainland.
Listen to an audio recording of Shere discussing the topic.