30 March 2000
BSE risk from vaccinations

MILLIONS of children could have been put at risk from vaccinations made from potentially infectious material taken from cattle at the height of the BSE crisis, it is claimed.

The Express reports that some pharmaceutical companies continued to use UK-sourced bovine material to make vaccines after others looked abroad.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker estimates that two million children were given primary courses for diphtheria from 1989 to 1992.

He said it was “appalling” that these had not been withdrawn.

Health minister Yvette Cooper told the Commons that medical staff were still administering these vaccines until they expired in 1993.

She said there was concern that withdrawing them could lead to epidemics of diphtheria, pertussis and whooping cough.

No links have been established between vaccinations and the 52 deaths so far from the human form of BSE, new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

Meanwhile, EU countries will be forced to carry out random tests on dead cattle under draft measures agreed in Brussels on Wednesday (29 March).

The move, endorsed by the European Commission, has to be approved by the EU Standing Veterinary Committee.

This follows claims of widespread under-reporting of the true scale of BSE in mainland Europe.

And in Asia fears of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Japan and Korea have led to a flurry of import bans across the continent.

The loser is this could be Australia, claims the Financial Times.

Australia says it is free of foot-and-mouth disease, but is concerned about a consumer backlash in Japan, its largest market.