European Union delays bTB vaccine to 2023

A vaccine against bovine tuberculosis is unlikely to be available commercially until at least 2023, according to an official with the European Commission.

EU health commissioner Tonio Borg sent a letter last month to secretary of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson that said vaccination against bTB was explicitly forbidden in cattle in EU legislation. Borg said testing for the bTB vaccine was also forbidden in intra-EU trade legislation, reports.

The letter said that the ban on vaccination was due to the possibility that vaccinated animals would not receive full protection against bTB.

"Due to the suboptimal protection induced by the available vaccines (live Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccine), vaccinated animals may become infected if exposed to the disease agent and then they cannot be distinguished from the non-infected vaccinated animals," Borg said, according to

Borg said that necessary scientific information is not yet available for the Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated Animals test, which could be compatible with a bTB vaccine. The test is not yet approved for use in the European Union.

To avoid the spread of bTB, there have been mass culls of badgers, animals known to carry the disease. Jack Reedy, a representative of the charitable organization the Badger Trust, said the news of the vaccine delay was bad for both cattle and badgers.

"The EU is a massive irritation, because we know the DIVA test is available and is effective, although not everything is watertight, and it's very odd that it's taking so long to refine the test - even more so because we need it," Reedy said, according to "It's such a desperate, urgent and important matter for British farmers, and the government is also arguing for this to be approved, because it's a long-term solution to the problem."

Reedy said that the organization is preparing to vaccinate as many badgers as possible to avoid the culls.

"We are getting ourselves ready to embark on more vaccinations in the coming months - we cannot do that until the breeding season is over," Reedy said, according to "We are putting our mouths, efforts and a great deal of money into taking part in the badger vaccination program, which has the benefit of not disturbing the badger population, which is the opposite of what the cull does."