UK farmers will be the first in the EU with access to a vaccine to help protect sheep and cattle against birth defects caused by the Schmallenberg Virus (SBV).
The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has issued the veterinary pharmaceutical company MSD Animal Health, a licence to provide the new Bovilis SBV vaccine.
The VMDs CEO Pete Borriello said: This is the culmination of intensive activity on the part of MSD Animal Health and the VMD to make a safe and effective vaccine available to tackle Schmallenberg.
Without in any way compromising the scientific rigour of our assessment process, we accelerated our assessment so that a vaccine will be available this summer.
This means it will be possible to vaccinate sheep and cattle before most of them become pregnant. This is important as it is during pregnancy when exposure to the virus can cause damage to the foetus.
Voluntary reports from our farmers show that 1,753 farms throughout Great Britain have now tested positive for the virus.
Defras Deputy Chief Veterinary Office Alick Simmons said: It is welcome news for British farmers to have the choice to vaccinate their animals. The vaccine will give extra assurance against this disease on top of the natural immunity we expect sheep and cattle to develop after initial exposure.
The vaccine will be available for use across the UK this Summer.