Animal Health Australia (AHA) places high priority on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) emergency response plans, because an outbreak of FMD would seriously impact Australia’s livestock industries, food and retail sectors, the wider community and the economy.
Ensuring access to vaccine stocks
The Government and Livestock Industry Policy Forum, which was held in Canberra in November 2001, identified access to stocks of vaccine as a critical component of Australia’s preparedness to respond to an outbreak of FMD.
In September 2004, AHA contracted Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health (BIAH) previously known as Merial (a major international manufacturer of veterinary pharmaceuticals) to establish an FMD Antigen Bank for the exclusive use of Australia. BIAH was reselected as the preferred supplier again in 2015 and 2019, after a detailed evaluation of Australia’s requirements and the capabilities of the various international suppliers to meet those requirements.
The antigen bank is held at BIAH’s Pirbright facility (United Kingdom) and comprises quantities of FMD antigens for the manufacture of vaccines to enable Australia to respond to an outbreak of FMD.
The quantities and strains of antigens currently held in Australia’s antigen bank were determined by a risk assessment, which considered the incursion and outbreak scenarios that might affect Australia.
Project funding and advice
Funding for AHA to establish and manage the FMD Antigen Bank has been shared by the Australian Government, the eight state and territory governments and potentially affected national livestock industry associations, including Cattle Council of Australia, Australian Dairy Farmers Limited, Australian Lot Feeder’s Association, Sheepmeat Council of Australia, WoolProducers Australia, Australian Pork Limited and the Goat Industry Council of Australia.
A committee comprising representatives from government and industry funding parties advises AHA in its management of the FMD vaccine supply contract.
AHA also receives technical advice from an appointee of the Director of CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) in Geelong.