China is learning that when it rains, it pours. For the last couple of weeks, their humongous problem with the coronavirus, a problem that may be bigger than they’re reporting, has been making news across the world as fears of it spreading and becoming on epidemic are at top of mind. But they had a problem before the coronavirus that will almost certainly impact their economy, food supply, and culture for months if not years.
China’s pigs are dying. Some estimates put it at 1/3rd of their entire pig population has been infected by the deadly African Swine Fever, forcing millions of pigs to die or be killed before getting buried unused. As the world’s largest consumer of pork, which comprises over 70% of the protein the population ingests, this is a devastating development. And now the coronavirus has diverted resources away from addressing the pig problem.
The South China Morning Post reported last month that state media blamed “criminal gangs” for spreading the disease so they could buy pigs cheaply and sell them at a premium.
But there may be hope on the horizon. Early reports came through yesterday that the U.S. has developed a vaccine.
Government and academic experts in the U.S. have developed a vaccine against African swine fever that’s proved 100% effective, according to the American Society for Microbiology.
Both high and low doses of the vaccine, developed from a genetically modified prior strain of the virus, were effective in pigs when they were challenged 28 days after innoculation, the report said.
“This new experimental ASFV vaccine shows promise, and offers complete protection against the current strain currently producing outbreaks throughout Eastern Europe and Asia,” said Douglas Gladue, the principal investigator at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which developed the vaccine.
If China cannot get a handle on the African Swine Fever that’s devastating their nation, the coronavirus could be the least of their problems. Considering how fast the disease is spreading, that’s saying a lot about the largest nation in the world.
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