Malawi, through the African Union Centre for Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases (CTTBD), has launched a vaccine against East Coast Fever (ECF) disease, which is the single biggest killer of cattle in some parts of the continent.
The centre, having undergone extensive collaboration with the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), is now producing the “one shot for life” Muguga cocktail vaccine, originally developed by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its predecessor, the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) and the Kenya Agricultural Research institute—now known as the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO).
“Tick-borne diseases are known to be one of the major constraining factors to the development of the livestock industry, especially in Africa. We are launching CTTBD at the right time to enhance the prevention of ECF in the region to realise the potential of the livestock industry and to protect human lives and address poverty.
“The centre will be the sole producer of the ‘one shot for life’ East Coast Fever Muguga cocktail ITM vaccine that will help protect 25 million cattle across eleven African countries,” said Dr Nkhwachi Gondwe, acting director of the centre.
The vaccine will be distributed in up to 11 countries in eastern and central Africa where the disease is endemic, killing one cow every 30 seconds and devastating the livelihoods of those who depend on livestock for survival.
CTTBD won the rights to produce the vaccine following a tendering process by the African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources and the regional task force, comprising government representatives of the four countries currently using the ECF Muguga cocktail vaccine. These countries are Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
“Nearly 900 million people in Africa rely on livestock for their livelihoods. When they lose livestock, they lose their source of livelihoods, which trickles down to the entire economy. The vaccine being manufactured by CTTBD is a one-time vaccination, protecting cattle for their entire life and securing this vital source of livelihood”, said Peter Jeffries, GALVmed’s chief executive officer.
CTTBD has manufactured and sold animal vaccines for over 30 years.
GALVmed has supported and invested significantly in CTTBD with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Government. This support is geared towards quality assured vaccine production and research leading to sustainable production of the ECF Muguga cocktail vaccine and potential vaccines for other tick-borne diseases. n