Cattle vaccine project: third phase of bTB vaccine field trials

13 March 2024

An image of a vet and a famer recording test data for cattle on farm

Photograph: 'Fototek' Geoff and Tordis Pagotto

Following the completion of Phase 2 on-farm activities of cattle vaccine field trials, the government has published an update to say it will undertake an additional phase (Phase 3).

Phase 3 will provide an opportunity to collect additional field data from a wider group of cattle to inform options to optimise the performance and reliability of the DIVA (Detect Infected among Vaccinated Animals) test.

A cattle vaccine for bovine TB, along with the new DIVA Skin Test, brings hope to many farmers in the fight for TB eradication.

Benefit herds for generations to come

Vaccinating cattle against TB has the potential to protect individual animals and halt disease spread within herds and populations.

The DIVA Skin Test (DST-F) is an innovative tool for bTB testing in vaccinated cattle populations. Specifically, the DST-F test is designed to distinguish between cattle vaccinated with the BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin) vaccine and those infected with Mycobacterium Bovis, the bacterium which causes bTB infection.

Head of Defra TB Programme and Deputy UK CVO Ele Brown said: “This next step in the ongoing field trials reflects our commitment to providing robust assurances of test performance for our farmers and vets.

“Along with colleagues in Scotland and Wales, we will continue to assess how this potential new tool could be deployed and provide the greatest possible benefit to our herds for generations to come.”

“If we are to stand any chance of eradicating this devastating disease, it is vital that we have access to all the tools that have been proven to reduce bTB in our cattle and our countryside.”

NFU President Tom Bradshaw

The results of the latest field trial of 300 vaccinated and 300 unvaccinated cattle offer confidence in safety to support a future marketing authorisation application. However, results indicate that there is still a need to collate further data on test performance.

Two animals on a participating farm exhibited reactions equal to or above the proposed positive cutoff point of > 2mm. Many factors may have induced this reaction, and this next phase of testing protocol assessment aims to enhance diagnostic accuracy across settings.

The criteria for the next phase will aim to inform practical disease control solutions for bTB in vaccinated herds.

NFU President Tom Bradshaw said: “If we are to stand any chance of eradicating this devastating disease, it is vital that we have access to all the tools that have been proven to reduce bTB in our cattle and our countryside; increased cattle testing, vaccination of badgers where viable and the culling of badgers where the disease is endemic.

“These tools must include a workable vaccine for cattle and associated DIVA test. Both are needed, and they would represent a significant step forward in the fight against bTB, so it is essential that everything is done to make sure it is the most effective it can be when it is made available for use.

“We cannot afford to get this wrong. Further field trials are needed to help provide us with a vaccine for cattle that will play a vital role in the future eradication of this terrible disease.”

Further information on the development of a CattleBCG vaccine and DIVA test can be found on the TB hub which will be updated in due course.

More from NFUonline:

Read more around the net

This page was first published on 08 February 2023. It was updated on 13 March 2024.

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query someone from NFU CallFirst will contact you. If needed, your query will then be passed to the appropriate NFU policy team.

You have 0 characters remaining.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.