World’s first Vaccine Near Approval to Combat African Swine Fever Crisis

World’s first Vaccine Near Approval to Combat African Swine Fever Crisis
Posted on 08-06-2023

Promising Vaccines against African Swine Fever Nearing Approval, Signaling a Major Breakthrough in Global Swine Industry


Vaccines for African swine fever (ASF) that have been undergoing testing in Vietnam are on the verge of approval, marking a significant breakthrough in combating this deadly animal disease. ASF has caused extensive disruptions in the global pork market, with China, the largest pork producer, experiencing massive losses during the worst outbreak in 2018-19. After decades of unsuccessful attempts due to the virus's complexity, two vaccines co-developed by US scientists and tested in large-scale pilot schemes by Vietnamese companies have demonstrated highly promising results. Global and US veterinary officials have expressed optimism about the vaccines' potential to be authorized for sale worldwide. This article provides an in-depth overview of the progress made with these ASF vaccines, their implications for the swine industry, and the challenges that lie ahead.

The Impact of African Swine Fever on the Global Pork Market:

African swine fever has had a profound impact on the global pork market, disrupting a 250-billion-dollar industry. The 2018-19 outbreak in China resulted in the death of approximately half of the country's domestic pig population, leading to estimated losses exceeding 100 billion dollars. The highly contagious nature of ASF, combined with its devastating effects on pig farms, has posed significant challenges for pig producers worldwide.

The Quest for Effective Vaccines:

Developing effective vaccines against African swine fever has been a long-standing challenge due to the complex nature of the virus. However, recent advancements in vaccine development have brought renewed hope. Two vaccines co-developed by US scientists and tested in Vietnam are showing remarkable promise. Gregorio Torres, head of the science department at the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), expressed optimism about the vaccines' potential success and their high chances of being authorized for sale globally.

Progress and Approvals in Vietnam:

Both vaccines have received approval in Vietnam for pilot commercial use, marking a significant milestone. The next crucial step is nationwide authorization, which would be the first-ever approval for an ASF vaccine. If successful, these vaccines could potentially be exported to other countries. US Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack has already hinted at the possibility of precautionary purchases of the Vietnamese vaccines by the United States, despite the country having remained free from the virus thus far.

Testing and Development in Vietnam:

The decision to conduct testing and development of the ASF vaccines in Vietnam was driven by the constant threat posed by swine fever in the country. As the virus is not present in the United States, it was not feasible to develop the vaccines domestically. Vietnam's experience with ASF outbreaks made it an ideal testing ground for assessing the vaccines' efficacy and safety.

The Current State of African Swine Fever:

As of 2021, African swine fever has been reported in nearly 50 countries, resulting in approximately 1.3 million pig deaths, according to WOAH. While there are currently no major outbreaks, the potential spread of the disease, particularly in China, remains a significant risk to the global pork industry. Agribusiness lender Rabobank has emphasized the importance of addressing this risk to ensure the stability of the industry.

Safety and Efficacy of the Vaccines:

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has played a pivotal role in the development and evaluation of the ASF vaccines. One of the vaccines, NAVET-ASFVAC, co-developed by the USDA and Vietnamese company NAVETCO, has undergone rigorous testing and has shown a high level of efficacy and no safety risks. After successful trials, 600,000 doses of NAVET-ASFVAC were approved for initial sales to pig farmers in Vietnam. The USDA confirmed that the first 40,000 doses were delivered without any safety problems, following a temporary suspension of vaccine use due to off-label inoculations that caused pig deaths. Stringent veterinary monitoring has been implemented to ensure the safe administration of the vaccine.

NAVET-ASFVAC: An Attenuated Live-Virus Vaccine:

NAVET-ASFVAC, one of the vaccines under evaluation, is an attenuated live-virus vaccine similar to those used in routine vaccinations for children worldwide. While the use of unlicensed live-virus vaccines in China raised concerns about the emergence of new strains of swine fever, NAVET-ASFVAC has shown promising results without any adverse effects.

The Role of AVAC ASF LIVE:

The second vaccine tested in Vietnam, AVAC ASF LIVE, was discovered by US researchers and commercialized by Vietnamese firm AVAC. While the USDA has not yet reviewed the data for this vaccine, it has been administered to a larger number of pigs than NAVET-ASFVAC during the pilot deployment.

Regulatory Approvals and Future Implications:

The approval of these vaccines for commercial use in Vietnam represents a significant milestone. However, further regulatory approvals and extensive testing are required before these vaccines can be widely distributed and utilized in the global fight against ASF. The successful development of effective vaccines would not only provide a valuable tool in controlling and preventing the disease but also offer a potential solution to the recurring disruptions in the global pork market.


The progress made in developing vaccines against African swine fever in Vietnam brings hope for effectively combating this devastating animal disease. The vaccines, co-developed by US scientists and tested in large pilot schemes by Vietnamese companies, have shown promising results and are nearing approval. If authorized for sale worldwide, these vaccines could have a transformative impact on the swine industry, preventing future outbreaks and reducing the economic losses caused by ASF. However, further research, regulatory approvals, and extensive testing are essential to ensure the safety and efficacy of these vaccines. The successful control of ASF would safeguard the global pork market and provide a more stable future for pig producers worldwide.