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Defra invests £200 million help fight avian influenza

scientist-testing-samples

DEFRA has announced a £200m investment into its world-leading research facilities at Weybridge, Surrey.

The funding will be spent on a “state of the art” revamp of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)’s complex of scientific laboratories.

See also: Europe investigating salmonella outbreak linked to eggs

New equipment and specialist testing facilities will mean APHA scientists can identify pathogens for existing and emerging threats posed by diseases spread by animals and help to maintain high biosecurity standards against Salmonella and avian flu, a spokesperson said.

The facility is critical in managing the avian influenza outbreak that the UK is currently facing – the largest on record.

“This investment in facilities will further enable Weybridge scientists to quickly sample, analyse and confirm the presence of bird flu in a location so APHA can act fast to tackle the threat,” the spokesperson added.

Investment

The £200 million funding is part of the £1.2 billion investment in the Science Capability in Animal Health programme announced in March 2020.

DEFRA chief scientific advisor, Gideon Henderson, said: “The importance of APHA’s work for society and for the UK economy is shown again and again; witness their work on the present avian influenza outbreak, and the global Covid pandemic – a zoonotic disease.

“This substantial investment in APHA’s capability recognises the essential role of this government laboratory and will enable its excellent scientists to continue at the forefront of research and policy to protect the country, boosting our resilience and strengthening our understanding of health risks to, and from, animals and plants”.