Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food
In December I announced that due to a global shortage of the BCG vaccine, I had suspended sourcing of Badger-BCG for vaccinating badgers in Wales. We were 4 years into a 5 year project within the Intensive Action Area (IAA) and 2 years into the badger vaccination grant across Wales.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) was commissioned to model simulations of the effect of different badger vaccination regimes on bovine TB in badgers and cattle, applying IAA-specific parameters. These took into account farm locations, herd size and badger social groups.
This modelling identified the likely impact that the non-availability of Badger-BCG in 2016 would have on the badger vaccination project within the IAA. This work has now been delivered and has been published on the Welsh Government website.
APHA’s conclusion is that despite not being able to complete the final year, 4 years of badger vaccination would achieve a reduction in prevalence of TB in badgers in the IAA. The modelling showed that a one year gap after year 4 and returning to vaccinate in year 6 is not different from vaccinating for 5 years consecutive years.
I am grateful to APHA for completing the modelling work and to landowners within the IAA for their continued co-operation.
We will continue to consult with the agriculture industry, wider rural communities, veterinary profession, TB Eradication Boards, and the Industry Advisory Group in the Intensive Action Area.
We will continue to evaluate the impact of all interventions within the IAA, including vaccination, cattle surveillance and controls and the enhanced biosecurity measures.
As usual, the annual IAA / Comparison Cattle report will be published in the summer.