Ottawa, Ontario – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is has announced that the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) will work with African swine fever (ASF), further supporting Canada's preparedness strategy by increasing research capacity.
"With the spread of ASF in other parts of the world, the Government of Canada is taking a leadership role to protect our pork industry, economy and Canadians' jobs," says Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. "Supporting research towards an ASF vaccine is one of many ways that we are working to mitigate the global impact of ASF."
Synergy for success
This complements ongoing collaborations between the CFIA and VIDO-InterVac aimed at developing and testing vaccines and antivirals for ASF – a deadly and fast spreading viral disease that is killing millions of pigs worldwide and could devastate Canada's pork industry.
"Science plays an important role in the fight against ASF," says Dr. Jaspinder Komal, Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada. "Supporting VIDO-InterVac's vaccine research is a key step forward in stopping the progress of this deadly disease."
In January, VIDO-InterVac will commence work with the ASF virus in its Containment Level 3-Agriculture (CL3-Ag) facility in Saskatoon. VIDO-InterVac will be the first non-government facility in Canada to work with the ASF virus.
As there are currently no vaccines or treatments approved for use against this pig disease, this research is an important step towards the development and testing of vaccines and antivirals for ASF that could serve to protect Canada's pork sector.
Driving progress to combat the spread of ASF
VIDO-InterVac has developed several new vaccines for animal diseases that include porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and contagious bovine pleuropneumonia.
"CFIA's support increases Canada's international contribution to combat the spread of ASF," says Dr. Volker Gerdts, Director, VIDO-InterVac. "This is a prime example of how this CL3-Ag infrastructure supports national priorities against emerging infectious disease and the development of solutions that mitigate their impact."
In 2018, approximately $4 billion worth of Canadian pork was exported to 87 countries, making Canada a top-three exporter of pork in the world.
Canada's pork industry supports more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs and contributes about $24 billion annually to the Canadian economy.
ASF has never been detected in Canada.
ASF does not pose a food safety risk.