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The ANMV actively engaged to ensure equine herpes virus vaccine availability

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News of 08/04/2021

There is currently an outbreak of rhinopneumonitis among horses in Europe. The French Agency for Veterinary Medicinal Products (ANMV) is actively engaged in assuring a substantial supply of EHV1 vaccines. 

The participation of horses in international competitions in Spain, and particularly the Valencia Spring Tour, which brought together 800 horses in February, has led to the spread of an outbreak of rhinopneumonitis (caused by equine herpes virus [EHV1]) within various European countries. Vaccination is one of the preventive health measures recommended. The epidemic has therefore led to a sharp increase in sales of the two vaccines authorised on the French market (Equip® EHV 1,4 produced by Zoetis, and Pneumequine® by Boehringer Ingelheim). In the first few days of March, about 90,000 doses were sold in less than a week, a figure that represents 3 to 4 months of typical sales. These increased sales led to market supply difficulties for 2 to 3 weeks in the middle of March and a very large backlog of orders. The same situation was observed throughout Europe.

The ANMV, part of ANSES, was quickly informed of the upcoming "critical" situation by the two pharmaceutical companies concerned through the critical shortage management procedure in place since 2019. The Agency was thus able to work with them both, facilitating the exchange of information on all the batches that were potentially available or could be made available in the short term. It also quickly gave exceptional approval for an extension of the expiry date for two batches of vaccines, thus avoiding a total breakdown in vaccine supply, which could have lasted several weeks and would have been very detrimental to the equine sector as a whole. 
 

Very substantial supplies of vaccine 

About 95,000 doses of vaccine were made available to veterinarians at the end of March, and more than 100,000 doses per month will be available in April and May. These supplies should provide veterinarians with the vaccines needed to satisfy client demand without requiring any preventive stockpiling, while helping to establish the herd immunity sought by the equine sector.

Indeed, apart from the outbreaks linked to the return of horses from Valencia, there has been no flare-up of equine rhinopneumonitis in France. The situation appears to be well under control, thanks in particular to the cancellation of gatherings and competitions, the vaccination of racehorses already in place since 2018 and the precautions taken for the breeding season.

Vaccination provides collective protection by reducing the risk and/or severity of infection, the duration of clinical signs and the shedding and transmission of the virus. It is indicated for healthy animals, in addition to all the other preventive measures.