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Tuberculosis

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Department has allocated to finding a vaccine to control (a) cattle and (b) wildlife borne tuberculosis; what stage trials have reached; and when it is likely to reach a conclusion. (97594)

In the last eight years, we have invested over £4.7 million in vaccine development for badgers and over £6.3 million in vaccine development for cattle. We have committed approximately £5.5 million per annum to future funding. Parallel work in relevant diagnostic projects is also done to support the vaccine work.

The research programme for producing an effective vaccine against tuberculosis in cattle and badgers is broadly in line with the timetable set out in the Krebs Report:

Research programme

Years 1-5

Identification of candidate vaccines and development of differential diagnostic tests

Years 5-10

Experimental investigations of vaccination protocols

Years 10-15

Field trials

The first stage started in 1999 and is ongoing. We are now planning and taking forward the second stage, testing candidate vaccines in naturally infected cattle and badgers, and developing novel vaccine delivery systems. We are taking advice from independent experts on these complex issues and collaborating with researchers from outside Great Britain.

However, developing a vaccine is a long-term aim. Scientific research takes time and success cannot be guaranteed. A successful vaccine is about 10 years from completion and vaccines will only ever form one part of a balanced package of measures to control bovine TB.