FRANCE has become the first European Union member state to place an order for avian influenza vaccine, intending to dose birds from Autumn 2023.

The tender for vaccines is subject to final tests having positive outcomes, and further consultation with the French poultry sector.

See also: CIEL report makes avian influenza recommendations

The country’s health and safety agency ANSES recently published a report outlining three scenarios for vaccination.

  • The first would be to vaccinate only breeding animals, requiring millions of doses.
  • A second scenario, applied at a later stage, would see foie gras ducks, free-range turkeys and ducks and future free-range layer pullets.
  • A third all layer hens and web-footed poultry not already covered elsewhere.

ANSES reports act as guidance for the government, which told Reuters it initially planned to vaccinate ducks, which are both receptive to catching the virus and can remain asymptomatic for several days.

France has mandated two companies, Ceva Animal Health and Boehringher Ingelheim to develop bird flu vaccines for ducks.

Ceva said initial results were “very promising”, notably by sharply reducing the excretion of the virus by infected birds, Reuters reported.

The structure of France’s poultry industry, where huge numbers of farmed waterfowl are relatively concentrated in the country’s south west, have made it particularly vulnerable to AI in recent years.

For example, in the 2021-2022 season more than 21 million birds were culled in the country.