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What We Know about the PED Vaccine

Q & A with Harrisvaccines: iPED + Vaccine Maker

By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com

On Jan. 30 the federal government announced that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will allow the country’s veterinarians to apply for permits to export a new vaccine to manage the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PED; however, very little is known about the vaccine.

Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said the vaccine is aimed at preventing the spread of the pig-killing virus. Preliminary studies have shown that pigs that receive the vaccine develop antibodies against PED.

CFIA officials say that there have been “multiple enquires” from veterinarians of the top producing pork provinces, including Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. As of Jan. 4 the agency said it has so far received two import permit applications. CFIA says it is awaiting test results from the manufacturer for the batches which are to be exported to Canada.

“Once the CFIA receives the product information and quality control test results from the manufacturer, import permits will be issued to veterinarians who have applied for the vaccine,” said Rachael Burdman, Media Relations for CFIA.

Burdman also adds that the vaccine is one of many options that producers can use when addressing this disease on their farm. “Strong biosecurity measures must be maintained regardless of the use of the vaccine or not,” she said.

The United States has been grappling with PED since last spring, with the virus infecting more than 2,000 hog farms in 22 different states, killing approximately one to three million pigs. The virus has spread to Canada, with the first case found on an Ontario farm (Middlesex County) Jan. 22. Since then the PED has infected eleven swine herds in the province.

Harrisvaccines Talks About its PED Vaccine

Editor’s note: At the company’s request to ensure accuracy, we have printed their answers to our questions verbatim without any editorial additions.

Q. Please tell me a little bit about iPED +. Talk about its history. Why was it developed? When was it developed? How does it work? How much does it cost?

A. Joel Harris (Head of Sales and Marketing at Harrisvaccines): Our SirraVax technology allows us to develop vaccines against constantly changing and emerging viruses faster than anyone else in the animal health sector. About two years ago, a former graduate student of my father (Dr. Hank Harris), approached us about potential collaboration for the development of a PEDv vaccine in Asia. Because at the time we were a small company, we focused only on domestic issues like Swine influenza (SIV) and Porcine Reproductive Respiratory Syndrome virus (PRRSv), which are constantly mutating and changing. We also focusd on viruses that are very difficult to grow – like Rotavirus subtype C. Because we do not have to grow the virus to produce our vaccines, it gives us a disruptive advantage over traditional vaccine production systems.

When PED was confirmed in the US in April of 2013, we immediately began development of several vaccine candidates. By May, we had taken the genetic code of the Spike gene within the PED virus off the Internet (it was public knowledge). We chose the Spike gene because our human company-partner, AlphaVax had developed an efficacious vaccine against SARS in 2004. SARS and PED are both coronaviruses so we had a basis and direction to explore. We had the Spike gene synthesized in about a month and had begun experiments in naïve pigs. After a few months of testing and collaborations with Iowa State University and South Dakota State, we made our first generation product, iPED, which was available by veterinary prescription in August 2013 – six months after the first confirmed cases. A few weeks ago, we launched the second-generation vaccine, iPED+, which includes a longer segment of the Spike gene and is showing more consistent virus neutralizing antibodies in naïve animals than our first generation product. The current cost is $3.00 per dose.

Our SirraVax technology is revolutionizing animal vaccines. Instead of growing up a live virus, then modifying or killing it in some way, Harrisvaccines utilizes a portion of the virus that is known to be protective when amplified for the immune system. Because we never have live viruses at our USDA licensed facilities, the safety profile of all our vaccines trumps our competitors.

The goal of iPED+ is to vaccinate the sow close to farrowing so that antibodies to PED are passed to the piglets through the mothers’ milk, thus protecting the piglets through the early days of life. We have data that unlike the majority of injectable vaccines, antibodies generated from our vaccine are found in mucosal surfaces.

Q. Can the iPED + vaccine prevent herd or piglet infection?

A. Our vaccine is built to reduce the virus shedding in a herd, which would hopefully reduce the disease caused by the virus. An animal can show no disease signs but still be infected.   That being said, no vaccine is 100%. A vaccine can become ineffective if it is over challenged with virus or if not all the animals are properly vaccinated.

Q. Is there any data on the vaccine efficacy and piglet loss reduction?

A. Harrisvaccines has ongoing efficacy trials including a pregnant gilt study that should be completed by mid-March 2014.

When should the vaccine be used? Should the vaccine be used in the midst of an outbreak?

The vaccine is recommended for sows. Either 1 injection 1 to 2 weeks pre-farrowing in a previously exposed herd or 2 doses in a naïve herd then a booster injection 1 to 2 weeks pre-farrowing.

Q. How many U.S. farms are currently using the vaccine? What types of operations are they?

A. Currently the vaccine is predominately being used in previously exposed sow systems. Since August 2012, almost 1 million doses have been used of the first generation product, and almost 100,000 doses of iPED+ have been shipped, with a back order pushing the queue for vaccine out to the end of February.

Q. What are the most common questions that you receive from veterinarians about the vaccine?

A. Does your vaccine contain an adjuvant? An adjuvant is typically an oil and water mix added to some vaccine to help stimulate immunity but can sometimes cause injection site reactions. None of our vaccines, including iPED+, include adjuvants.  

Costs, vaccination schedule recommendations, and “how soon can I get the vaccine?” are the most common questions.

Q. Do you think this vaccine will be effective in the Canadian context?

A. The PED virus that came into the US is 99% similar to the Chinese strain and does not appear to be changing drastically. We continue to monitor for shifts and drifts in the PED virus, but because Harrisvaccines’ specialty is making herd-specific vaccines, we could rapidly respond to a custom Canadian or specific Canadian customer’s herd in as fast as 4 to 6 weeks.

Q. How many veterinarians from Canada have ordered the vaccine?

A. We are assisting the CFIA and several Canadian veterinarians apply for permits to import the vaccine.
 


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