ASF vaccine to be tested in PH ‘in the very near future’, says Dar

Published April 20, 2021, 12:55 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

What’s the difference between the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the African Swine Fever (ASF)? 

Humans can be vaccinated against the former, but there’s no vaccine for pigs that’s confirmed to work against the latter.

(Photo screengrab from Manila Bulletin Facebook page)

But this may change sooner than later. Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar said in his presentation during President Duterte’s public briefing late Monday night, April 19 that they’ve achieved progress in their talks with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the local testing of an ASF vaccine that’s currently in development.

“We are in discussion with USDA…maganda naman po naging resulta ng usapan at in the very near future ay tetestingin rin natin yung bakuna dito sa bansa (the result of our talk has been good and we will also be testing that vaccine in our country in the very near future),” said Dar, who joined the meeting with the President via Zoom.

He noted that the vaccine is currently being tested in Vietnam, another Southeast Asian nation, under the auspices of USDA.

ASF practically has a 100 percent mortality rate among pigs. The disease decimated Philippine hog-raising industry the past year even as the govenrment grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Dar mentioned in his report that ASF incidence in the country had dropped dramatically this month as there were only 98 recorded positive samples. The recorded high for 2020 fell on the  month of August when there were 1,773 positive samples.

This positive development has allowed DA to focus on helping hog raisers repopulate the country with the livestock.

Aside from the USDA vaccine, the agency is also banking on the effectiveness of two products developed by Filipino inventors that are said to be able to cure pigs of ASF in its early stages.

“Susubukan po natin, ite-testing. Kasi sabi nila, basta early use of this at the early stage of the ASF ay magre-recover po yung ating mga baboy (We will try it, we will test it. What they’re saying is the pigs can recover for as long as it is used during the disease’s early stages),” Dar said.