28 March 2001
Vaccination: What the papers say
By FWi staff
AGRICULTURE minister Nick Browns decision to seek EU permission to vaccinate against foot-and-mouth draw a mixed response from the newspapers.
Mr Brown said on Tuesday (27 March) he sought “a contingent decision” so vaccination could be “deployed immediately” if thought to be the right approach.
Vaccination could be used in areas around infections to stop the spread of the disease. Inoculated stock would be slaughtered once the disease was contained.
Up until now, the Government has resisted calls for vaccination, favouring its slaughter policy, despite the number of UK outbreaks reaching 693 by 20.30 on Tuesday (27 March).
By considering vaccination, Mr Brown is “tacitly acknowledging a calamitous record of failure so far,” claims the Daily Mail.
It says the “U-turn” has been forced on ministers by “sheer necessity” as the outbreak spirals and a backlog of animals for slaughter builds up.
The Times greets the news more positively, despite acknowledging that vaccinations would end exports for at least one generation of livestock.
It says a realisation that the epidemic is set to last for months, and that the international appetite for British meat is “fading fast” should focus minds.
“Even to open the vaccination debate is hard; but it is also both brave and logical in the worsening circumstances,” claims The Times.
The Daily Telegraph argues that the time has come to consider using vaccines more widely than to create a firebreak within infected areas.
It calls for a wider programme to prevent the disease spreading to new areas and protect valuable stock.
Otherwise the situation could worsen as the weather improves and cattle are put out to grass, it warns.
Debate over whether this would be an admission that the slaughter policy has failed should wait until the crisis is over, says The Daily Telegraph.
“At each stage of this disease, the Government has been too late.
“The time for the post-mortem is, as the phrase suggests, when the dying has ended. Alas, there is much more dying ahead.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture is branded “incompetent” by the Daily Express, which says it refuses to learn from past crises.
Once the foot-and mouth crisis is resolved, Tony Blair should “find a means of eradicating the disease at the heart of MAFF”, it claims.
Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage