EXCLUSIVE-France picks German, French firms in second bird flu vaccine tender

Credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

By Sybille de La Hamaide

PARIS, March 22 (Reuters) - France has picked German company Boehringer Ingelheim and France's Ceva Animal Health to supply bird flu vaccines as part of an unprecedented vaccination campaign against the disease that has decimated poultry flocks, the companies told Reuters.

This prompted the government to launch a campaign in October to vaccinate all ducks against bird flu, braving trade barriers from countries that fear the virus could spread without being noticed. Ducks are one of the most sensitive species to the virus.

In a first vaccine tender in July, the ministry granted an order for 80 million doses to Boehringer Ingelheim, causing an outcry from Ceva, which challenged the decision in court. The French company pulled its appeal later that month, saying it did not want to delay the vaccination campaign.

Boehringer Ingelheim will provide 34.2 million doses as part of the second tender, which is for 61 million doses, the company said, adding that deliveries are due to begin in April.

Ceva Chief Executive Marc Prikazsky said in a statement to Reuters he was "very pleased that Ceva’s vaccine solution has been selected".

France's agriculture ministry did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Boehringer Ingelheim said that as part of the renewable deal, the company could support the French authorities for four years if it proved necessary to continue bird flu vaccination.

Bird flu is usually carried by migrating wild birds before being transmitted between farms. It ravaged flocks around the globe in the past years, disrupting supply, fueling food prices and raising concerns over the risk of human transmission.

France has seen a sharp fall in bird flu outbreaks this season. Scientists say this is due both to vaccination and a lower number of outbreaks in Europe.

This prompted France to ease bird flu restrictions last week, allowing ducks and poultry outside again.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide Editing by Mark Potter and Chizu Nomiyama)

((Sybille.deLaHamaide@thomsonreuters.com; +336 8774 4148;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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