Vaccines produced by Onderstepoort Biological Products meet set standards
14:30 (GMT+2), Mon, 04 June 2012
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) wishes to dismiss with contempt the media statement issued by the Democratic Alliance which sought to question the efficacy of the vaccines produced by Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP).
The DA’s Ms Annette Steyn, in one of her series of usual misrepresentations of facts suggested that the department had something to hide by refusing to release a report of one Prof Leon Prozensky into the effectiveness of vaccines used for Rift Valley Fever (RVF). It should be noted that it is not for the first time that Steyn has ignorantly questioned the efficacy of OBP’s vaccines. The OBP- produced Rift Valley Fever vaccines, including those for African Horse Sickness, are subject to rigorous and stringent testing at OBP.
Steyn conveniently omitted to tell the public that the Prof Prozensky report, which the OBP had commissioned, could not be released to the public as it was incomplete and that Prozensky did not use accredited laboratories for many of his tests. It is also worth mentioning that Prof Prozensky is not a virologist, but a pathologist.
His incomplete, yet leaked report does not include the following salient points: the content of the registration dossier; the ISO 9000 quality system at OBP which guarantees the release of vaccine batches only if it passes all the quality tests; the strict maintenance of the cold chain from OBP to the Co-op or distributor and the product support which goes with the sale of vaccines, including the package insert which gives clear instructions as to how the vaccine should be used.
Following the leaked incomplete Prozensky report, OBP engaged the services of an internationally-acclaimed virologist on RVF for an opinion. The specialist indicated that:
- Because RVF outbreaks occur in cycles of 5 to 15 years, farmers tend not to vaccinate their animals which result in very low herd immunities;
- When an outbreak occurs thereafter they rush to vaccinate their animals, but immunity will start a week to two weeks later and reach its full potential three weeks later; and
- They vaccinate many animals with a single needle using multi-dose bottles, which means they are spreading the disease, and because the herd immunity is so low the disease then spreads like wildfire.
The department and OBP have heard an allegation that they cannot prove at the moment that some veterinarians have bought the OBP product, diluted it and then resold it in their own bottles to farmers. If the allegation is true, the department cautions anyone who participates in such a practice to desist from doing so with immediate effect, or else would face the might of the law.
OBP prides itself on producing vaccines that meet set standards. Steyn would be disappointed to know that the majority of the farmers countrywide that have used OBP’s products have expressed satisfaction over the quality and the efficacy of its vaccines.
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