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Thursday, April 18, 2024

To subsidize or not to subsidize: DA weighs option on ASF vax payment

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) has yet to finalize if the African swine fever (ASF) vaccine will be given for free or will be paid for by hog raisers, an official said on Monday.

“We have yet to discuss that but the possibility will depend on the price. The government can intervene,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary and deputy spokesman Rex Estoperez said.

Estoperez, citing the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI), appealed to the government to subsidize or, at least, shoulder half of the cost of the vaccine against ASF to help small and medium scale local hog farmers.

NFHFI President Chester Tan said over the weekend that while there is still no definite price per ASF vaccine dose being released, he speculated that it would be between P400 to P600 price range, which could very high for farmers.

“Those prices are just speculation. Our supplier hasn’t said anything yet if they already have a price,” Estoperez, however, clarified.

“On that P400 to P600, we cannot confirm on that because we have not yet given those who are registering with the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] what their price is,” he added.

Furthermore, Estoperez said that it is more difficult for the government to speculate.

“Maybe if the price we quote is the same one they use, which should be cheaper. The only important thing is that we address this ASF, especially [for] our backyard raisers, we will also subsidize this a lot,” he said.

Moreover, Tan said, “We are appealing for government subsidy. If not 100 percent, at least, 50 percent, especially to small scale hog raisers.”

With President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. as concurrent Agriculture secretary, Tan expects the agency would provide funds for the ASF vaccine.

Over the weekend, the FDA has received the application to certify the ASF Vietnam-made AVAC vaccine and shall be subjected to pre-assessment.

“If acceptable, the FDA shall facilitate the evaluation of the submitted dossier to determine the quality, safety and efficacy of the ASF vaccine,” Job Aguzar, FDA spokesperson said.

“At the same time, [there’s] a request for permit to import additional doses of the vaccine to support the ongoing phase 2 clinical trial being conducted by the applicant with Bureau of Animal Industry [BAI],” Aguzar added.

The FDA is citing the request of the BAI for the issuance of Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) to the vaccine for its immediate distribution in the country.

BAI Assistant Director Arlene Vytiaco said over the weekend they are pushing for the AVAC vaccine after the 100-percent success of the field trial was recorded on pigs by producing antibodies.

“We have endorsed it to the FDA for the issuance of Certificate of Product Registration (CPR),” she said.

The BAI official hopes the FDA will immediately issue the CPR as many counties are also waiting for supplies.

The manufacturer is ready to supply 600,000 vaccines to the Philippines.

Vytiaco, however, said they have yet to determine the price of each vaccine dose from the manufacturer.

Image credits: Artinun Prekmoung | Dreamstime.com

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