No Proof Natural Compound Prevents African Swine Fever China Says

( National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff )

A company that claimed a natural compound was effective in preventing the deadly African swine fever virus did not have government approval to research the virus and its assertions are not scientifically sound, China’s ministry of agriculture said on Thursday.

Shopping mall operator Guangdong Highsun Group Co. was questioned by the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Thursday after announcing it was backing development of an ASF vaccine, Reuters reported.

Research on, and handling of, the ASF virus is strictly regulated by the Chinese government. Highsun said on Tuesday it would spend $130 million, or 26% of its 2018 net assets, on supporting research into a natural compound they said has proven effective in preventing this disease.

However, without a research application and experimental data, China’s ministry of agriculture said the claim that a polysaccharide injection is effective in preventing the virus lacked scientific proof.

The race is on around the world to find a vaccine for this disease that has ravaged the world’s largest pork producer.

Highsun said preliminary research showed the polysaccharide to be 92% effective in preventing the disease in clinical trials. This announcement triggered a 10% surge in its shares on Wednesday, leading to a trading suspension, Reuters said.

The Shenzhen exchange is seeking more clarity, including additional data regarding the vaccine's effectiveness and whether the researchers had government approval to conduct research on the virus.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Affairs for Hainan province said on Thursday that it had supported a research team that had isolated a polysaccharide compound from tropical plants which had shown a "certain preventive effect" against African swine fever, Reuters said.

However, the bureau said more research was needed to determine the possible impact of virus mutation and the safety, stability and feasibility of industrial production of the compound. Reuters said it is not clear if the bureau was referring to the same team backed by Highsun.

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