24 February 2000
TB vaccine a long way off — Bourne

A CATTLE vaccine against tuberculosis still a long way off, the group which advises the government on the control of bovine TB has admitted.

In its latest report the Independent Scientific Group also warns that results from the Krebs trials designed to track down links between bovine TB and TB in badgers should not be expected before 2005.

ISG chairman Professor John Bourne told the Radio 4Farming Today programme that he was pessimistic about the likelihood of a vaccine in the short-term.

“I think the timescale of 10-15 years is realistic in that it wont be before then, and may well be longer than that.”

He explained that the difficulty is developing a vaccine which does not compromise tests.

Prof Bourne said the Krebs trial timetable to have everything in place by spring 1998 had been totally unrealistic.

He said the ISGs “more realistic” timetable to have the cull complete by the end of 2000 had slipped by only nine months.

First data will emerge at the end of this year. Useful data could emerge by the end of 2002, though he thought the end of 2004 a more realistic target.

Prof Bourne claimed that the involvement of badgers in spreading TB was incontrovertible.

He said that it is certainly the case that, if badgers are eradicated on a widespread level, this goes a long way to controlling TB.

However, the government had made it clear this was not an option.

Prof Bourne warned localised culling could have less impact, or indeed make the situation worse.

If local badger populations are stirred up, animals are encouraged to move to new areas, increasing chances of transmission.