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Poultry industry calls for urgent gov’t action on bird flu vaccines

THE GOVERNMENT needs to act urgently in acquiring vaccines to contain the spread of avian influenza (AI) or bird flu, poultry industry officials said.

On the sidelines of a poultry industry event, Elias Jose M. Inciong, president of the United Broiler Raisers Association, said the government must match measures taken by other countries.

“The (Department of Agriculture) should seriously study vaccination for bird flu. Indonesia is doing it, Malaysia is also doing it, China of course. The US (is) doing trial work on vaccination,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Mr. Inciong said imports will be the likely source of vaccines, which are currently commercially available in some markets.

He noted that the Philippines has yet to establish a virology institute.

“We really need that capability in the event new bird flu strains emerge,” he said.

Gregorio A. San Diego, Jr., chairman of the Philippine Egg Board Association, inquired about the source of the delay.

“This outbreak has been (taking place) since last year. Bakit hindi mag-endorse ang DA, ano hinihintay nila kasi dadaan pa ng FDA (Food and Drug Administration) iyan (Why can’t the DA endorse the vaccine? Don’t they realize that there will be further delays when the FDA studies the application?),” Mr. San Diego told reporters separately.

The Bureau of Animal Industry said outbreaks are ongoing in two regions, two provinces, four municipalities, and seven barangays as of May 30.

Mr. San Diego said retailers are buying fewer eggs from traders with demand remaining weak. He added that the cost of feed is still high, adding to growers’ losses.

As of Tuesday, the price of whole chickens in Metro Manila markets was between P150 and P200 while medium-sized eggs sold for between P6 and P8.50 each. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

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